SEJONG, Jan. 16 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea’s exports of kimchi shot up 20 percent in 2018 from a year earlier, hitting an all-time-high of US$97.5 million, the country’s agricultural ministry said Wednesday.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said the growth was the strongest upswing since it started compiling such data in 2006. The total amount shipped was the highest since 2012.
Kimchi is a traditional Korean side dish normally made of fermented cabbage, salt and hot peppers and is eaten with almost all meals.
The number of countries importing South Korean kimchi products increased to 68 last year, up from 63 in 2017, the ministry added.
Japan was the biggest importer of South Korean kimchi products, buying $56 million worth in 2018, up 23 percent on-year.
The United States followed with $9 million, up 24 percent, then Taiwan with $5 million and Hong Kong with $4.5 million worth of kimchi imports last year.
The ministry said the increase was attributable to the government’s efforts to promote the health benefits of kimchi around the globe.
“It is significant that the export of kimchi increased sharply despite the unstable supply of some ingredients last year due to the heat wave, along with economic challenges from home and abroad,” the ministry said.
“To maintain kimchi export growth, the government plans to expand research into improving the quality and packaging of kimchi,” it added, claiming Seoul will continue to implement various measures to help to local firms.