The Korea Herald


Korea’s kimchi exports soar to all-time high

By Byun Hye-jin

Published : Jan. 17, 2022 - 15:20

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A consumer holds a pack of kimchi in a convenience store. (Yonhap) A consumer holds a pack of kimchi in a convenience store. (Yonhap)

South Korea’s exports of kimchi recorded an all-time high last year, reaching a trade surplus for the first time in 12 years, data showed Monday.

Kimchi is a traditional Korean side dish made of spicy sauce and fermented cabbage.

According to the Korea Customs Service, exports of kimchi surged by 10.7 percent on-year to $159.9 million last year. The figure surpassed the record-high exports of $144.5 million in 2020.

More than half of last year’s exports went to Japan, followed by the US, Hong Kong, Taiwan, England, the Netherlands and Australia.

“Due to the Korean Wave, many foreigners are taking great interest in Korean food. Also, coupled with a growth in the food industry spiked by the prolonged coronavirus pandemic, many food companies are making entrance in the global market by customizing kimchi to the exported countries,” an official from Korea Customs Service said.

On the other hand, imports of kimchi that are mostly brought in from China, dropped by 7.7 percent to $147.4 million, hitting an all-time low since 2014.

Industry sources say although Chinese kimchi holds a price advantage over Korean kimchi, sanitary issues have resulted in fewer imports from China. In March, footage showed a naked man pickling kimchi in a Chinese factory, provoking Korean consumers to boycott kimchi produced in China.

Driven by the high volume of exports and less imports, Korea registered a trade surplus of kimchi for the first time since 2009.