This year’s exports of makgeolli, a traditional Korean rice wine, are set to surpass $50 million for the first time on a sharp rise in demand from Japan and China.
According to the Korea Customs Service, 37,027 tons of makgeolli worth $45.29 million were exported in the 10 months to October, about triple the amount sold abroad in the same period last year. Korea saw $15 million in makgeolli exports (15,543 tons) in January-October 2010. The country’s exports of the rice wine in 2010 amounted to $19 million.
“Demand for makgeolli rose steeply in Japan and China as it is widely known as a healthy alcoholic drink,” a KCS official said.
“If this upward trend continues, exports of makgeolli will top $50 million this year and reach $100 million next year.”
Exports of soju, Korea’s top alcohol export, dropped slightly while overseas sales of Korean beer jumped.
Soju exports dipped from $95.64 million to $91.9 million. Beer exports surged 43 percent year-on-year to $57.74 million in the January-October period.
Thanks to the robust exports of makgeolli, Korea’s total exports of alcoholic drinks gained 30 percent from a year ago to $205 million.
Imports, meanwhile, climbed 7 percent to $346 million.
Beer, soju and wine imports surged 34 percent, 23 percent and 18 percent, respectively, while imports of whiskey fell 4 percent.
Whiskey still took up the greatest share among imported alcoholic beverages with $181.14 million, followed by wine ($104.5 million), beer ($48.17 million) and clear strained rice wine ($11.82 million).
By Kim So-hyun