South Korea recorded USD 6.21 billion in agricultural and fishery food exports in H1 2022, a 14.6% increase year-on-year.
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This is a record high for both agricultural food and seafood* in their respective first half performance.
* H1 exports of agricultural food(100 million dollars): 36.0(2020)→41.8(2021)→45.0(2022)
H1 exports of seafood(100 million dollars): 11.0(2020)→12.5(2021)→17.1(2022)
The growth of agro-food exports was led by rice-processed food, ramyeon, snacks, and beverages, supported by the spread of the Korean wave, steady popularity of K-Food, and local efforts to overcome logistics challenges, despite difficult external factors, including the prolonged Russia-Ukraine conflict, continued global logistics crisis, and the tighter quarantine measures against COVID-19 in China.
Rice-processed foods were popular mainly in the US, including items such as instant rice, tteokbokki, and makgeolli (rice wine), backed by the continued demand for home meal replacements and interest in the food and the food culture of Korea.
* Exports by country: United States markets totaled USD 43.1million (32.9%↑)
New Southern markets totaled USD 16.1million (3.2%↑)
The growth of ramyeon exports was supported by the popularity of the diverse products (such as spicy and halal ramyeon) in Vietnam, the world’s number one ramyeon consumer, and many other countries across the world, and their expanded penetration of various distribution channels, such as large retail stores, convenience stores, and online malls.
* Exports by country: Chinese markets totaled USD 91.9million (34.9%↑)
New Southern markets totaled USD 72.2 million (22.2%↑)
United States markets totaled USD 47.9 million (28.3%↑)
The demand for beverages increased mainly in the Southeast Asian countries following the increase in outdoor activities, and exports grew on top of the popularity of healthy drinks, made with aloe vera, fruit syrup, and tea.
* Exports by country : New Southern markets totaled USD 93.4 million (21.9%↑)
United States markets totaled USD 54.6 million (33.7%↑)
Fishery food exports also exhibited growth in most of their key products, including the Korean seaweed Gim, toothfish, and abalone, despite external challenges, and successfully recorded a historical high in its H1 performance*.
* Gim: 375.9 million USD (13.8%↑), Toothfish: 56.4 million USD (117.31%↑), Abalone: 29.0 million USD (43.7%↑)
Laver seaweed, currently ranked number one in seafood exports with 114 destination markets, continues to steadily grow its exports, based on the development of its many variants, including dried gim for processing, seasoned gim for side-dishes, and gim snacks. The seaweed is expected to become the first seafood item to reach annual exports of more than USD 700 million.
* Gim exports in H1 (million dollars): 286.8 (2020)→330.4(2021)→375.9(2022)
Exports of toothfish, a deep-sea fish caught by Korean fishing boats in the Antarctic Ocean known for its taste and nutritional value, have shown rapid growth in the US.
* H1 toothfish exports in the US(million dollars) : 17.0(2020)→21.3(2021)→46.7(2022)
* H1 Toothfish price (per kg):17.7(2021)→31.4(2022) (77.4%↑)
With increased awareness of its status as a healthy food, live abalone exports to Japan and Vietnam are growing, while more exports of frozen processed abalone are expected, mainly to the US.
* H1 abalone exports to Japan (million dollars):13.9(2020)→14.7(2021)→21.8(2022)(48.2%↑)
* H1 abalone exports to Vietnam (million dollars):1.6(2020)→1.82(2021)→3.85(2022)(111.1%↑)
As fresh agricultural products will commence their full-fledged shipments in H2, MAFRA plans to be fully committed to enhancing the quality and safety from the production stage, stabilizing the logistics by securing shipping vessels and aircraft dedicated to agricultural food exports, while strengthening customized marketing strategies for each individual country based on their respective environment to further expand exports.
One of its actions was to start earlier this year the quarantine process and systematic preparation of the logistics and marketing for fresh pears (early produce), considering that Chuseok, Korean Thanksgiving Holidays, comes earlier than the previous years, to ensure seamless exports to the US, the major export destination.
As strawberries and grapes are sold at the highest possible quality in the Southeast Asia and Greater China regions, Korea intends to grow its exports by targeting the demand for gifts, by expanding its presence in high-end retail shops, and by developing and piloting new variants preferred by overseas consumers.
Exports of flagship traditional foods, including kimchi and fermented soybean pastes, will continue by promoting the efficacy of fermented food, enhancing marketing efforts in line with Korean content, and by developing various recipes based on the food ingredients that go well with the local cuisine.
Meanwhile, as the global logistics disruption has persisted since the pandemic, the ministries will continue to resolve difficulties faced onsite, by collaborating with Korean-flag shipping companies to secure and safely operate vessels dedicated to agricultural food and air freight operators dedicated to shipping strawberries, while providing support for Chinese importers in terms of customs clearance and logistics following the tightened COVID-19 quarantine measures imposed on imported foods.
MOF plans to strengthen local marketing overseas to continue the export growth witnessed in fishery food during H1 into H2, work towards securing new transaction channels, and provide support for the export sector that is currently facing challenges due to increases in logistics expenses. ■