SEOUL, Jan. 16 (Korea Bizwire)– South Korea imported US$25 billion worth of food last year, with the biggest shipment in monetary terms coming from the United States, according to the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety on Tuesday.
The total is a 7 percent increase from the year before and breaks down to 18.29 million tons in 672,278 shipments of food and related materials from 168 countries.
In terms of monetary value, imports from the United States totaled $5.43 billion, followed by China with $4.19 billion. Australia came next with $2.57 billion, Vietnam $1.18 billion and Russia $941 million, according to the ministry’s data for 2017.
By item, beef was the most imported food at $2.46 billion. Pork came next at $1.63 billion. Food material for processing reached $1.56 billion, with numbers for soybeans and wheat reaching $612.2 million and $549.7 million, respectively.
The U.S. was the biggest source for beef and pork imports, while China was the most common country of origin for cooking utensils and rice, the data showed. South Korea imported sizable amounts of frozen shrimp from Vietnam and Alaska pollock and corn from Russia.
A breakdown by number of individual shipments showed 175,891 from China, 92,563 from the U.S. and 46,653 from Japan. Shipments from China outnumbered other countries because of large imports of kimchi and cooking utensils, such as stainless steel products and ceramics, the ministry said.
Some 0.19 percent of imported foods did not pass inspections. Fifty-seven percent of the rejected imports were processed food.