SEOUL, April 8 (Korea Bizwire) – The Chinese beer Tsingtao has emerged as the No. 1 import brand in South Korea at a leading supermarket chain, industry data showed Friday, amid the rising popularity of Chinese cuisine in the country.
According to the data compiled by E-Mart, Tsingtao outpaced other rivals in sales over the January-March period, pushing out traditional leaders, including the Netherlands’ Heineken and Japan’s Asahi.
In 2014, Heineken stood as the No. 1 player, trailed by Asahi and Belgium’s Martens. At that time, Tsingtao was the fourth player.
“The rising popularity of Chinese food, including roasted lamb on skewers, helped Tsingtao gain further ground in South Korea,” an E-Mart official said.
It marked the first time for the Chinese beer to take the throne since reaching the South Korean market in 2000.
Industry watchers also said restaurants that serve Chinese-style roasted lamb, which used to operate only in local Chinatowns, are expanding to other areas to reach a wider number of South Koreans. The trend eventually led to more consumers eyeing exotic beer, they added.
Separate data compiled by the state-run Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation showed imports of Chinese beer brands in 2015 came to 11,490 tons, up 70.6 percent from a year earlier.
The amount, however, still hovered below the 31,000 tons posted by Japanese brands and the 24,847 tons held by German products.’