February 06, 2017 12:51
Demand for imported food is growing significantly in Korea. In the markets for beef, grapes, squid and nuts, imports accounted for 55 percent, 71 percent, 91 percent and 93 percent of sales in superstores last year.
At E-Mart, sales of American and Australian beef rose to 54.8 percent last year, from just 41.4 percent in 2013, beating domestic beef for the first time. Beef imports from the U.S. also exceeded those from Australia for the first time in eight years after the mad cow disease scare.
Demand for imported seafood is even higher. Squid from Mauritania accounted for 88 percent of the local market, and sales of Norwegian and British mackerel rose from five percent in 2014 to 15 percent last year.
Sales of Senegalese and Indonesian hairtail grew from 14 percent to 19 percent during the same period. The number of seafood exporters to E-Mart increased from four countries in 2008 to 17 in 2015.
Imported grapes, mostly from Chile, accounted for 71.7 percent of the grape sales at Lotte Mart, and 92.5 percent of nuts sold at E-Mart were imported.
But demand grew mainly because local products are in short supply and therefore expensive.
"In the case of seafood such as hairtail and octopus, it became hard to meet demand as local catches declined because of global warming," said a staffer at E-Mart. "But food imports are also increasing because they cater to more variegated tastes and prices have fallen due to free trade agreements."
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