중앙데일리

Sales of wine pass soju as Koreans get healthy

June 02,2008
Koreans are spending more on wine than soju for the first time in the nation’s history, based on sales at the nation’s biggest discount chain.

Sales of wine totaled 24.3 billion won ($23.5 million) in the January to May period, E-Mart said in a release yesterday. Meanwhile, soju recorded 24.1 billion won of sales during the same period. The store analyzed alcohol sales from its 113 branches nationwide.

“As Koreans have become more health-conscious, they seem to be opting for beverages with lower alcohol content,” said Cho Jung-wha, who works in public relations at E-Mart.

Soju contains nearly 19 percent alcohol, while most wines have less than 15 percent, according to wine experts.

Since 2005, wine consumption has increased 40 percent every year on average in Korea, while soju consumption has been stagnant.

Decreased sales of whiskey are another indicator that Koreans are moving toward lighter drinks.

According to E-Mart, whiskey consumption fell from 14.9 percent of total alcohol sales in 2005 to 13.2 percent this year.

Wines from countries such as Chile and Australia also helped boost the drink’s popularity as those wines are of a high quality but are priced lower than wines from France and Italy.

Among total wine consumption, wines priced at less than 10,000 won accounted for about 34 percent, and wines between 10,000 and 20,000 won made up 30 percent of total sales, E-Mart said in the release.

One example is Laroque Red. The wine, which costs 3,500 won, sold more than 100,000 bottles last year at E-Mart.

In an attempt to appeal to young people, diverse types of wines are also marketed. Unlike traditional wines which are corked, canned wines, mini wines and wine-flavored beverages attract people by giving them a range of options.

“Wine was once regarded as a symbol of luxury but it is now maturing as part of our culture,” Cho added.

Ubiquitous wine-related courses that are available at local community centers are another sign that wines have become a part of people’s daily lives.


By Sung So-young Staff Reporter [so@joongang.co.kr]



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