Makgeolli sales up as demand from young consumers rises

2024.02.28 11:29:01 | 2024.02.28 11:36:04

[Graphics by Song Ji-yoon]이미지 확대

[Graphics by Song Ji-yoon]



As the popularity of traditional spirits like soju and beer declines due to recent shifts in drinking culture, major Korean makgeolli brands including Jipyung Makgeolli, Baesangmyun Brewery, and KOOK SOON DANG are experiencing consistent growth.

According to data from Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation on Tuesday, retail sales of Jipyung’s rice makgeolli increased by about 15 percent compared to the previous year to total 51.1 billion won ($38.3 million) in 2023. Jipyung Brewery’s revenue has been steadily rising each year, with 30.8 billion won in 2020, 40.5 billion won in 2021 and 44.7 billion won in 2022.

Founded in 1925, Jipyung Brewery has a deep-rooted history as a traditional Korean rice wine manufacturer. Despite its annual revenue only totaling 200 million won in 2010, the company saw rapid growth with a 250 percent increase in sales within ten years after Kim Ki-hwan, a third-generation member of the founding family, took over as the CEO in 2010.

Baesangmyun Brewery’s ‘Neurin Maeul’ (19 percent) and KOOK SOON DANG’s ‘Rice Makgeolli’ (27 percent) also showed high retail sales growth rates in 2023. The changing drinking culture, with fewer group gatherings due to the impact from the Covid-19 pandemic, has led to an increase in people enjoying makgeolli at home and contributed to the rising popularity of the low-alcohol beverage.

The latest trends include the introduction of various new products such as fruit-flavored makgeolli, chestnut makgeolli, and earl grey makgeolli, indicating the diversification and popularization of traditional makgeolli. Seoul Jangsu Makgeolli gained the public’s attention by blending traditional makgeolli with a modern trend with its ‘Earl Grey Makgeolli’ product. Jipyung Brewery targeted younger consumers with the release of ‘Boni Dalbam,’ a dessert chestnut makgeolli with an alcohol content of 5 degrees. Additionally, singer Sung Si-kyung’s makgeolli, ‘Kyungtakju 12 degrees,’ sold out within three minutes on the day of its online store release.

The export market for makgeolli is also growing, thanks to the increasing popularity of Korean cuisine worldwide. Jipyung Brewery changed its English corporate image (CI) to ‘JIPYEONG BREWERY’ in 2023 and plans to export to the United States, China, and Japan in 2024. The company aims to hit overseas sales of $5 million within the next three years, exporting Jipyung Makgeolli to a total of 10 countries, including the United States, Europe, and Southeast Asian nations.

By Kim Geum-yi and Minu Kim

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