Beer from Japan is king of the imports

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Beer from Japan is king of the imports

Japanese beer topped sales in Korea’s imported beer market this year, industry data showed Tuesday, amid the rising popularity of foreign beer here.

According to data compiled by Lotte Mart, Japanese brands accounted for some 22.2 percent of imported beer sold this year at the discount chain of retail giant Lotte Group through Sunday.

Japanese beer also ranked first last year with a 21.5 percent share, followed by German beer at 19.9 percent and Belgian at 11.3 percent. Chinese beer accounted for 7.1 percent of all imported beer sold at its outlets, according to Lotte Mart.

Beer from Germany took first place in 2014 and 2015, but its share has been falling from 25.1 percent in 2015 to 19.9 percent last year and 16.6 percent this year.

The popularity of imported beer has been soaring in Korea, taking up 51.1 percent of Lotte Mart’s beer sales this year, surpassing the share of domestically-produced beer for the first time. The comparable figure for 2015 and 2016 were 34.5 percent and 40 percent, respectively.

“Imported beer in Korea has entered into a maturing stage,” said a Lotte Mart spokesman. “In the early stage, consumers prioritized the fun of trying different types of beer from different countries. But as the market matured, consumers have come to the point of repeatedly buying brands that match their taste.”

Korea’s inbound shipments of foreign beer hit a half-yearly record of some 95,858 tons in the first half of 2016, up 34.5 percent from the same period a year earlier.

The country imported 170,919 tons in 2015, worth some $142 million, up 43 percent on-year, according to the Korea Customs Service.

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