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한국농식품시장 개요

Executive Summary

South Korea has the 12th largest economy in the world with a GDP of $1.6 trillion and a per capita GNI of $32,047 in 2019. It is about the size of Indiana and has a population of 52 million. Over 90 percent of Koreans live in urban areas. Domestic production meets only 45 percent of food demand. The United States exported $8.9 billion in agricultural products to Korea in 2019, making it our fifth largest export market. The U.S. supplies a quarter of Korea's agricultural imports.

Imports of Consumer-Oriented Products

Korea imported $14.7 billion in consumer oriented products in 2019, accounting for 41 percent of agricultural imports. There are still many opportunities for U.S. export growth in this segment, including for beef, pork, fruits, tree nuts, dairy products, confectioneries, beverages, and further prepared foods.

Food Processing Industry

Korean retail food sales totaled $95.3 billion in 2018, accounting for 26 percent of total retail sales. Grocery supermarkets are the leading food retail channel, followed by hypermarket discount stores, convenience stores, on-line retailers, and department stores. On-line retailers and convenience store food sales are expected to grow faster than other channels over the next 5-10 years. The fast expansion of on-line retailers is forcing conventional retail channels to restructure space and devise new strategies to attract consumer traffic.

Quick Facts CY 2019

Imports of Ag. Products from the World

  • Basic Products $5.2 billion
  • Intermediate Products $8.0 billion
  • Consumer-Oriented Products $14.7 billion
  • Forest Products $2.8 billion
  • Seafood Products $5.4 billion
  • Total $36.1 billion

Top 10 Consumer-Oriented Ag. Imports

Beef ($2.9 billion), pork ($1.6 billion), frozen fish ($1.3 billion), fresh fruits ($1.2 billion), dairy ($958 million), alcoholic beverages ($788 million), coffee ($662 million), tree nuts ($354 million), bakeries ($340 million), chocolate confectioneries ($328 million)

Top 10 Growth Consumer-Oriented Ag. Imports

Animal offal, mineral water, food preparations not-elsewhere-specified, butter, vinegar, grapes, poultry meat, beef, roasted prepared foods, melons & papayas

Food Industry by Channels (2018)

  • Retail Food Industry $95.3 billion
  • HRI Foodservice Industry $120.2 billion
  • Food Processing Industry $63.3 billion
  • Food & Agricultural Exports $7.0 billion

Top Korean Retailers

EMART, LOTTE Mart, HOME PLUS, COSTCO, GS Retail (GS Super, GS25), BGF Retail (CU), Korea Seven, E Land Retail, Lotte Department Store, Shinsegae Department Store, Hyundai Department Store, Hanwha Galleria, CJ O Shopping, GS Home Shopping, Coupang, SK Planet, Ebay Korea


Population: 52 million
GDP: US $1.6 trillion
GDP per capita: US $32,047

Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunities/ Challenges

Strengths Weaknesses
Well established market with modern distribution channels High logistics costs to ship U.S. products
Consumer income level continues to increase Consumers have limited understanding of U.S. products
Opportunities Challenges
Strong consumer demand for value, quality, and diversity Strong competition from other exporting countries
KORUS FTA reduces tariff barriers for U.S. products. Discrepancies in food safety and labeling regulations

Data and Information Sources:
Korea Ministry of Food & Drug Safety, Korea National Statistics Office, Korea Int'l Trade Association, Trade Data Monitor, CIA Factbook

Contact: U.S. Agricultural Trade Office Seoul

For more detailed information about the Korean market see the Exporter Guide 2020.

Agricultural Trade Office, U.S. Embassy - Seoul
Tel: 82-2-6951-6848 Fax: 82-2-720-7921