June 7, 2011


South Korea's food and agricultural exports surge this year



South Korea's food and agricultural exports surged 34.3% on-year in the first five months of 2011, mainly due to a rise in demand from Japan and other Asian countries, the government said on Monday (Jun 6).


The Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said outbound shipments reached US$2.82 billion in the cited period, fueled by solid overseas demand for such goods such as ginseng, processed food, and various beverages.


Exports of fresh farm products, including meat and ginseng products, rose 30.9% to US$358.60 billion, with aquaculture goods up 28.2% to US$879.20 million till late last month.


In May alone, outbound shipments jumped 52% compared to the previous year to US$640 million, the highest monthly total tallied for the month-long period.


"Exports to Japan that had been growing by around 22% before the massive March 11 quake increased to 31% after the island nation's farm production was disrupted by the release of radioactive materials into the environment," the ministry said. It added shipments to other Asian countries can be attributed to overseas buyers opting to import South Korean goods as problems in supply and concerns about radiation have made them more cautious about Japanese farm and food products.


Exports to Japan, the single largest buyer of South Korean farm and food products, rose 30.7% to US$882.00 million, with shipments to Taiwan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations jumping 75.0% and 51.1%, respectively. Numbers for China and Hong Kong moved up 50.5% and 32.0% vis-a-vis May 2010.


"Demand for emergency food products such as instant noodles, biscuits, and bottled water were high in Japan as well as various seafood products like laver and brown seaweed," it said.


Besides exports being fueled by problems in Japan, the ministry claimed greater better quality control and aggressive marketing efforts have helped locally produced goods make inroads into overseas markets.


Given the present pace, the country should be able to meet this year's farm goods export target of US$7.60 billion, which is a gain from a record US$5.88 billion tallied in 2010, the ministry said. It said that there is a good chance that South Korea may even be able to ship out US$10-billion worth of farm, aquaculture, and processed food products in 2012.

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