South Korea’s wine imports soared over 70% in 2021 to reach a record high, making it the fastest growing Asian market for wine, as more wine drinkers turn to home consumption during the pandemic.
Asia’s fourth-largest economy imported US$506.2 million worth of wine in the January to November period of last year, up 76% from a year earlier, according to the data from the Korea Customs Service and industry sources.
In contrast, China’s wine imports contracted by 14% in value during the same period compared with last year.
The remarkable value growth also marks the first time that South Korea’s wine imports have surpassed the US$500 million mark for a country of 51 million population, reports Korean news agency Yonhap.
The Asian power house emerged as the strongest and most resilient market during the pandemic. Its wine imports defied expectations and grew consecutively from 2019 to 2021.
Its wine imports rose to US$259.3 million in 2019 from 2018’s 244 million, and continued to grow to US$332 million in 2020.
The growth has earned it a new title as the most attractive wine market just behind the US, the world’s biggest wine consumer, according to Wine Intelligence.
The top wine supplier to South Korea is France, which exported US$162.6 million worth of wines, followed by the US with US$81.6 million, Chile’s $68.6 million and Spain’s US$37.9 million.
In addition to wine, the country’s whisky imports also climbed to reach a five-year record high at US$154.3 million from January to November, representing a 37.4% growth year on year.
Beer, however contracted by a moderate 1.7% in value to US$204.5 million.