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K-Food Exports Expected to Exceed 10 Trillion Won This Year
Korea’s Wonderful Taste
K-Food Exports Expected to Exceed 10 Trillion Won This Year
  • By Michael Herh
  • November 6, 2017, 01:45
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An American child tasting Bibibo Dumpling.
An American child tasting Bibibo Dumpling.


It is expected that K-Food (Korean food) will open an era of US$ 9 billion in exports this year. Ramen, Choco Pie, dumplings, dried laver, and other K Foods are showing off the 'taste of Korea' all over the world based on their competitiveness proven in Korea.

According to Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation (aT) on November 5, Korea's food exports amounted to US$ 6,776.6 million by September of this year. If this trend holds, the export figure is expected to exceed US$ 9 billion a year for the first time in history. This is 2.5 times the figure of US$ 3.7 billion in 2007, ten years ago from this year.

Representative K-Food products are processed foods such as ramen noodles. Processed food accounted for 63% of K-Food exports last year. Exports of Korean ramen such as 'Shin Ramen' increased 27.9% in two years from US$ 320.21 million in 2014 to US$ 409.77 million last year. It paid off for Korean ramen exporters to put a spur to exporting ramen to China by veering away heavy dependence on exports to the US and Japan which target Korean residents there.

Last year, Korean ramen accounted for 35.3% of the Chinese market, the world's largest ramen market. Its US market share stood at 27.3%. "Nongshim and other Korean noodle makers were successful based on excellent product strength and SNS marketing by beginning to develop overseas markets in 2015," an aT official said.

In addition to ramens, CJ CheilJedang 'Bibido Dumpling', Orion 'Choco Pie', Binggrae 'Banana Flavored Milk' and 'Melona' are performing highly in overseas markets based on their proven competitiveness. Bibigo Dumpling which entered the US in 2010, ranked first in the US processed dumpling market (11.3%) last year. CJ CheilJedang set the goal of posting one trillion won in Bibigo dumpling sales. 70% of the sales will be achieved overseas. Its planned investments in overseas production bases such as the US, China, Russia, Germany, and Vietnam exceeded 200 billion won.

Orion Choco Pie ranked first in the Chinese brand power index for the second consecutive year in 2017 announced by the China Corporate Brand Institute. Orion recorded 70.9% (342 billion won) of 482 billion won in sales abroad including China, Vietnam and Russia last year. Binggrae exports flagship products such as Banana Flavored Milk and Melona to China and the United States. Its export volume, which was only 6.7 billion won in 2010, grew 4.7-fold to 32 billion won last year.

Among agricultural and marine products, dried laver is a representative export product. Compared with competitors such as Japan and China, Korea's dried laver production and processing technology is considered excellent. Kim's exports grew 21.8% a year on average over the past decade, reaching US$ 350 million last year. In the first half of this year, Korea also exported US$ 269 million worth of dried laver which grew 49% year on year. At present, more than 40% of domestically produced dried laver is being exported.

There is a hurdle for Korean food companies to clear. Currently, exports to China, Japan and the United States account for more than 50% of K-Food exports. The top ten export countries accounted for more than 75%. For this reason, Korean food companies is keenly feeling need for market diversification as they suffered a sharp drop in sales during the second quarter of this year when China began to retaliate Korea for its THAAD System deployment.