SEJONG, Dec.7 (Korea Bizwire) – Ever since the launch of Honey Butter Chips, the demand for sweet-flavored potato chips has increased, which has pushed potato imports to an all-time high.
According to the foreign trade statistics of the Korea Customs Service, the amount of fresh and refrigerated potatoes imported to make chips as of October this year reached 29,548 tons.
The numbers exceed the previous high of 28,581 tons in 2011. Compared to the imported amount during the same period last year (16,929 tons), imports increased by 74.5 percent.
Considering that there were only 99 tons of fresh and refrigerated potatoes imported in 1995, imports have grown by a factor of 300 in only 20 years.
The biggest factor influencing the increase in imports was the increase in demand for potato chips since Haitai’s Honey Butter Chips were a massive hit in the latter half of 2014. The unprecedented popularity of Honey Butter Chips resulted in the release of other sweet-flavored potato chip products from competing brands, expanding the market.
However, due to a drought and a reduced cultivation area, the domestic production of potatoes dropped, and prices went up.
Another problem is that domestic potato varieties have a long dormant period, forcing companies to import more potatoes as demand went up.
The ‘Daeso’ and ‘Doobek’ varieties, which are used in the production of chips, can only be harvested once a year. As a result, from December to May, potato chips are made out of potatoes imported from the U.S. and Australia.
Haitai explains that it used domestic potatoes for the launch of Honey Butter Chips in August 2014. However, as winter approached and domestic potatoes grew scarce, the company was forced to switch to imported ingredients. Haitai switched back to domestic potatoes in June, before again making use of imported potatoes in November.
As a result, measures are being taken to increase the supply of domestic potatoes to reduce demand for imports.
The Rural Development Administration developed new varieties of potatoes such as ‘Goeun’, ‘Sebong’ and ‘Jinsun’, and are growing them in southern parts of the nation.
The organization hopes to substitute at least 15,000 tons of imported potatoes between December and March with the newly-developed domestic varieties.
By Lina Jang (email@example.com)