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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Korean food export to U.S. hits record high due to increasing popularity

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Korean food exports to the U.S. hit a record high of $1.74 billion.

According to aT Center LA reported that Korean exports to the U.S. showed solid growth last year, increasing year-on-year by 6.6 percent.

Despite last year’s economic challenges, including a global slowdown, supply chain disruptions, and the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, Korean food exports to the U.S. reported a record high. This success is attributed to the perception of Korean food as healthy, its taste and quality, diversified sales channels including online and multiethnic markets, and the growing popularity of K-food, aT Center LA noted.

[aT Center LA]

Korean snack exports were a standout last year, reaching $212 million, a 33.5% increase from the previous year. Within this category, bakery items and processed rice products saw increases of 20% and 15%, respectively.

Kimchi, the second-highest exported food product, was exported at $169 million worth, rebounding from a decline at the beginning of the year last year.

Instant noodles showed the highest increase, jumping 66.2% year-on-year to $126 million in exports to the U.S.

“Although instant noodle is majorly a locally produced item, the 66.2 percent year-on-year increase in exports to the U.S. shows that demands for Korean products have notably surged,” said Minho Kim of aT Center LA. “We speculate that its consumption is rapidly expanding beyond the Korean-American market to the U.S. local market, including Hispanic communities.”

As tteokbokki and rice cakes have become popular among other ethnic groups, rice processed food exports to the U.S. have been growing steadily. Rice processed foods grew 32.7 percent year-on-year to $114 million in exports.

Kimchi, a classic K-food specialty, grew 37.4 percent, second only to ramen.

Gochujang was the standout product, with its exports reaching $21 million, up 35.4% year-on-year. The Korean counterpart to sriracha and hot sauce, Gochujang, has gained popularity due to its versatility in cooking compared to other types of spicy sauce, aT LA observed.

Last year, instant coffee products and citron (yuzu) entered the top 10 of Korean exports to the United States.

Sweetened instant coffee mixes of a Korean-style coffee blend grew 21.3 percent year-on-year as they became popular among the Hispanic community. Yuzu (yuzu tea), a signature Korean beverage promoted by the aT Center over the past few years, grew by 27.6% as it took hold in the American market.

Along with the popularity of K-food, soju exports also surged to $23 million last year. The industry expects further growth in the future.

“This year’s outlook for exports to the U.S. is also promising, as retailers in local markets are increasing K-food sales,” said Kim.

BY EUNYOUNG LEE, HOONSIK WOO    [lee.eunyoung6@koreadaily.com]