SEOUL, March 3 (Yonhap) — South Korea said Wednesday it plans to keep up brisk overseas sales of agricultural products in 2021, as demand for ready-to-eat products has been growing around the globe with more people dining at home amid the virus pandemic.
Outbound shipments of agricultural products expanded 7.7 percent on-year in 2020 to a record high of US$7.57 billion, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
The country plans to maintain the growth to post exports of $8.1 billion this year as well.
In 2020, South Korea’s overseas sales of fresh produce advanced 3.4 percent to reach $1.43 billion, and those of processed items expanded by a wider margin of 8.7 percent to hit $6.14 billion.’
By segment, exports of kimchi jumped 37.6 percent to reach $144.5 million, as the COVID-19 pandemic has led to stronger demand for healthy foodstuffs. Kimchi is a traditional Korean side dish normally made of fermented cabbage, salt and hot peppers.
Exports of instant noodles also grew 29.3 percent over the cited period to reach $603 million, while those of processed rice also gained 27.1 percent to $138 million.
In 2021, South Korea plans to penetrate deeper into new markets such as Southeast and Central Asia by taking advantage of “hallyu,” which refers to the boom of South Korea-made entertainment content.
Exports to Southeast Asia are expected to reach $1.7 billion this year, up 10 percent from 2020.
The government plans to assist local companies in developing customized ready-to-eat items targeting vegan consumers and overseas markets.
South Korea will also utilize free trade deals, including the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) that covers the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and its dialogue partners, which awaits implementation later this year.