South Korea's kimchi imports hit record high of $169.4 million last year

By Park Yoon-bae Posted : January 27, 2023, 14:29 Updated : January 27, 2023, 14:56

[Photo by Kim A-ryeong]

SEOUL -- South Korea’s imports of kimchi, a traditional Korean side dish made of fermented cabbage, hit a record high of $169.4 million last year, according to the Korea Customs Service (KCS). The sum marked a 20.4 percent increase from 2021.
The surge of kimchi imports was attributed to soaring inflation which made consumers prefer cheaper products from China. Locally made kimchi products became expensive due to high prices of cabbage and other ingredients.
The increase rate was the highest since 2010 when it stood a 53.8 percent. All kimchi imports came from China.
Korea’s kimchi imports increased from $130 million in 2019 to $150 million in 2020, according to the KCS. But they fell to $140 million in 2021, affected by a shocking video footage showing a naked Chinese man making kimchi.
The price of imported kimchi was estimated at $643 per ton last year, much cheaper than Korean-made kimchi which was exported at the price of $3,425 per ton.
South Korea’s kimchi exports stood at $140.8 million in 2022, down 11.9 percent from a year earlier. The fall was the first of its kind in seven years.
The country suffered a deficit of $28.58 million in the trade of kimchi last year after enjoying a surplus of $19.17 million in 2020.
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