Market Information > Market Overview
South Korea has the 10th largest economy in the world with a GDP of $1.8 trillion and a per capita GNI of $35,090 in 2022. It is about the size of Indiana and has a population of 51.6 million. Over 80 percent of Koreans live in urban areas. Domestic production meets only 46 percent of food demand. The United States exported $10.1 billion in agricultural and related products to Korea in 2022, making it our fifth largest country export market. The U.S. supplies a quarter of Korea's agricultural imports
Imports of Consumer-Oriented Products
Korea imported $19.3 billion in consumer-oriented products in 2022, accounting for 38.4 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
Korea had over 31,300 food processing companies as of 2021, generating $63.3 billion in sales. Korean food processing companies rely heavily on imported commodities and ingredients. Imports of basic and intermediate agricultural products totaled $20.9 billion in 2022. Seventeen percent ($3.6 billion) of these imports came from the United States.
Food Retail Industry
Korean retail food sales totaled $131 billion in 2022, accounting for 27 percent of total retail sales. Grocery supermarkets are the leading food retail channel, followed by on-line retailers, hypermarket discount stores, convenience stores, 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 anddevi se new strategies to attract consumer traffic.
Quick Facts CY 2022
Imports of Ag. Products from the World
Top 10 Consumer-Oriented Ag. Imports from the World
Beef ($4.2B), Food Preparations ($2.3B), Pork ($2.0B), Alcoholic Bev $935M), Cheese and Curd ($800M), Preserved Fruits/Nuts ($453M), Poultry Meat ($452M), Bakeries ($419M), Preserved Vegetables ($389M), Chocolates ($363M),
Top 10 Growth Consumer-Oriented Ag. Imports
Vegetables under HS0703, Alcoholic Bev., lamb, butter, mineral waters, beef, processed fruits & nuts, coffee
Food Industry by Channels
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, SK Planet, Ebay Korea, Coupang
Population: 51.6 million
GDP: US $1.8 trillion
GDP per capita: US$ 35,090
|Well established market with modern distribution channels||High logistics costs to ship American products|
|Consumer income level continues to increase||Consumers have limited understanding of American products|
|Strong consumer demand for value, quality, and diversity||Elevated competition from export-oriented competitors|
|KORUS FTA reduces tariff barriers for American 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, Global Trade Atlas, CIA Factbook. To the greatest extent possible, the latest available statistics are used in this publication.
Contact: U.S. Agricultural Trade Office(ATO) Seoul
For more detailed information about the Korean market see the Exporter Guide 2022.
Agricultural Trade Office, U.S. Embassy - Seoul
Tel: 82-2-6951-6848 Fax: 82-2-720-7921