[Photo by Kim Ho-young]
South Korea’s wine imports in the first eight months of this year more than doubled those of beer as more people have opted for home drinking amid prolonged Covid-19 restrictions and increased variety and price of the beverage.
According to Korea Customs Service and multiple industry sources on Thursday, Korea’s wine imports reached $370.45 million in the January-August period, up 96.5 percent from the same period last year. The figure already exceeded last year’s total wine imports of $330 million. Wine imports more than doubled those of beer at $149.78 million, a reverse in trend given beer was top import beverage until 2019.
Last year, wine imports surged 27 percent while beer imports dwindled nearly 20 percent.
Industry insiders noted that demand for wine in Korea increased as more people have chosen to drink at home under Covid-19 restrictions. Wine importers have also diversified wine vendors from various countries that have increased wine choices in terms of tastes and prices.
By country, France was the biggest wine exporter to Korea with $116.62 million in the January-August period, followed by the United States, Chile, Spain, and Australia.
Sales channel has also become more diverse and wines are a popular drink not only at wine shops and department stores but also discount stores and convenience stores.
Some local convenience stores are also introducing their own wine labels in response to the rising popularity.
An unnamed official from Korean liquor maker Hite Jinro Co. said that the company’s wine sales climbed 78 percent in the first half of this year from last year and expected the demand to continue growing.
Beer imports, meanwhile, are on a downhill.
Beer imports fell from $309.68 million in 2018 to $280.89 million in 2019 and then $226.86 million in 2020. Beer imports from Japan, in particular, plunged from $78.3 million in 2018 to $39.76 million in 2019 and $5.67 million last year due to Koreans’ voluntary boycott against Japanese products in retaliation to Tokyo’s exports curb of semiconductor materials to Korea.
Korean micro-breweries also made their way in the competitive market with their products becoming alternatives to import beers.
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]