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Interview / Kim Jae-Soo, Minister of MAFRA

Korea Makes Great Strides in World Market, Ranks 37th in Market Share
US$ 1.8 Billion in Fresh Produce Exports


The Korean government is carrying out various policies to help high-quality Korean agriproducts enter overseas markets. At the beginning of this year, Korea AgraFood interviewed Mr. Kim Jae-soo, the Minister of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs, about the prospects of the advancement of Korean agriproducts, popular products, and marketing strategies into foreign markets.

AgraFood: Korean agriproducts boast a high level of safety, excellent quality, and delicious taste, and their sales abroad are growing. What is the current share of Korean agriproducts in the global market?
 

Minister: The global food market is expected to grow from US$ 6.1 trillion in 2015 to US$ 7.3 trillion in 2019. In 2015, the scale of the world’s food market was 4.9 times larger than that of the automobile market (USD$ 1.3 trillion), 3.8 times larger than the information technology market (USD$ 1.6 trillion), and 7.3 times larger than the steel market (USD$ 0.8 trillion). Despite the unfavorable situation at home or abroad due to currency value and worldwide economic recession, exports of Korean agriproducts increased by 5.9% in 2016 as compared to 2015. Korea has made great strides in the area of agricultural exports, taking the 37th share in the world market, according to Global Trade Atlas. Capitalizing on this growth, the Korean government hopes to build a firm base for agricultural exports in the future.

AgraFood: The scale of the halal food market—especially in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries and Southeast Asia—is huge and cannot be ignored. Korean producers are entering the market thanks to Hallyu (the Korean wave). Can you tell us what Korean products have a good chance of becoming popular there?

Minister: The world halal food market, whose size was US$ 1.1 trillion in 2014, is expected to increase by 40% and reach US$ 1.6 trillion by 2020. This figure is the greatest for a single market, taking about 20% of the world’s food and beverage market. The Korean government considers the halal market a growing blue ocean and has designated the Korean halal food industry as a new growth engine to be promoted and supported with related policies. Promising products for the halal market include red ginseng, aloe drinks, Singo pears, fried hot chicken flavored and other types of noodles, and snacks. Some 110 products have already obtained halal certifications, and are now gearing up for the full-fledged foray into the market.

AgraFood: Korean fresh produce is exported robustly to the Americas, Japan, as well as European and Southeast Asian markets. What are the flagship products among them?

Minister: Overall, in 2016, the export volume of Korean fresh produce increased by 7.5% to USD$ 1.8 billion, compared to the previous year. By market and item, the consumption of Korean pears in the US grew by 15.2%, with US$ 30.6 million-worth of pears having been distributed. Korean bell peppers, which have a dominating position in Japan with a 72% market share, raked in US$ 93.3 million. Many European consumers opted for Korean fruit juices, enoki mushrooms, and king oyster mushrooms. Malaysia and Thailand recorded high sales of Korean strawberries.

AgraFood: What promotional events for Korean agriproducts are going to be held in overseas markets this year?

Minister: We aim to attain the export goal of US$ 10 billion through customized marketing strategies for China and the halal market. We are looking for promising items that have a competitive edge in the global market and can bring more income to Korean farmers.

Considering current trends in the world food market, baby foods and functional foods have a good potential due to the economic growth in newly emerging countries in Southeast Asia and Central and South America. In line with this trend, we will introduce products appealing to local consumers and expand the supply channels required for advancing into these markets. We will also proceed with promotions of delicious and high-quality Korean agriproducts through international food exhibitions, hands-on experience programs for consumers, and online marketing activities.

AgraFood: It is a Korean custom to give well-wishing remarks in the beginning of a year. What would you like to say to overseas consumers interested in Korean agriproducts?

Minister: I hope for your continued interest and attention to Korean agriproducts this year. The Korean government will enthusiastically promote healthy agriproducts of high quality and high food safety to satisfy your preferences and expectations. I wish all buyers and consumers of Korean agriproducts to be healthy and happy in 2017.

AgraFood  leehw@agrinet.co.kr

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