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Desire for healthier food boosts Korea’s exports of kimchi by 13.8% in Jan.-Aug.
South Korea’s exports of kimchi soared 13.8 percent to US$111.5 million in the first eight months of 2021 according to the data from the Korea Customs Service and the food industry.
The robust growing kimchi exports were attributed to the perception that the fermented dish is considered to boost the body’s immunity amid the outbreak of COVID-19, and to greater interest in Korean foods caused by the popularity of Korean pop culture.
Japan accounted for the largest portion of $57.2 million, followed by the US with $18.9 million, and Hong Kong with $5.4 million.
Meanwhile, kimchi imports shrank 9.7 percent on-year to $86.1 million over the same period, resulting in a trade surplus of $25.4 million.
The sharp drop in kimchi imports occurred after a video showing unsanitary handling of salt-soaked cabbage went viral in March in China, the largest kimchi exporter to South Korea.
Kimchi imports from China came to $9.9 million a month later, dropping below the $10 million mark for the first time in almost two years, before falling further to $8.2 million in July.
South Korea is now expected to register a kimchi trade surplus for the first time in 12 years in 2021.