Japan cuts back on imports of Korean foodstuffs

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Japan cuts back on imports of Korean foodstuffs

As Korea-Japan relations continues to worsen due to disputes over Dokdo and Japan’s refusal to face up to its colonial era misdeeds, Korean food exports to Japan are seeing sharp declines.

According to the Korea Agro-Fisheries and Food Trade Corporation (aT) yesterday, exports of the Korean items that Japanese like the most, such as makgeolli, or Korean rice wine, and instant noodles decreased significantly.

Exports of makgeolli to Japan fell 33.9 percent to $32 million last year, compared to 2011, and those of instant noodles decreased by 18.7 percent on-year to $85 million last year.

“Decreases in sales of makgeolli are also due in part to the growing popularity of non-alcoholic beverages among Japanese women in their 20s and 30s, who were the main consumers of makgeolli in Japan,” said an aT official.

Exports of chicken soup, or samgyetang, declined by 14.4 percent; those of gochujang red pepper past fell 5.1 percent; and exports of kimchi fell by 2.6 percent, according to aT.

It was the first time that exports of kimchi to Japan declined since 2006.

The aT said anti-Korean sentiment and the detection of O-157 bacteria in the pickled cabbage produced in Japan led to a drop in sales of all kimchi, including imports from Korea.

Kimchi exports to Japan was reduced to $84 million last year from $86 million in 2011.

Imported samgyetag became popular in Japan as part of overall popularity of Korea, things due to the so-called Hallyu, or the wave of Korean cultural exports.

Sales of samgyetang rose 37.7 percent in Japan in the first half of last year from the same period in 2011, hitting $6 million. However, in the second half they sharply decreased by 42.3 percent to $4.5 million.

Although total overseas exports of Korean instant noodles hit a record high of $206 million last year, exceeding $200 million for the first time and up 10.4 percent from the previous year, exports to Japan plunged 18.7 percent to $43 million.

The surge in demand for instant noodles following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami contributed to the relatively reduced on-year exports of noodles last year.

By Kim Jung-yoon [kjy@joongang.co.kr]

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