Korean Food Exports Grow Despite Tightened Belts

      April 13, 2009 09:56

      Korean foods are experiencing growing popularity in overseas markets, raising hopes that they can become a major item driving the country's export-dependent economy. Despite the global recession, exports of Korean fresh and processed foods have increased by more than 6.6 percent this year.

      In China, Korean sauces and condiments such as ganjang (soybean sauce) and gochujang (red-pepper paste) are particularly popular. More than US$70 million worth of Korean processed squid and more than $29 million worth of instant noodles were exported to China in 2008. Korean-made citron and honey teas are all the rage there as well, with more than $10 million worth of citron tea exported last year.

      Millions of dollars worth of mushrooms are being exported to China too. The volume of soju exports to Japan crossed the $100 million mark last year, and some $75 million worth of kimchi was sold to the island country. Sweet Korean pears have become a favorite in the U.S., where they are used as an ingredient in various dishes. And some $20 million worth of dried Korean laver, instant noodles and royal jelly were exported to the U.S. Korea also exported more than $40 million worth of coffee products to ASEAN countries. Exports of Korean foods increased 11.2 percent from $2 billion in 2006 to $2.2 billion in 2007, and 14.4 percent to $2.6 billion in 2008.

      This year, exports of rice, barley and corn meal, as well as mushrooms, chili peppers, ganjang and gochujang have risen sharply. "Exports of Korean foods are on the increase because the food industry is less vulnerable to the recession and that Korean foods are considered safer and healthier after the Chinese melamine scandal," an official with the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency said.

      The government is working out measures to standardize Korean foods, find new markets for them and give financial support to food processors in efforts to boost exports.

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