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Quick Stats

Quick Stats

Organics Dashboard From Passport

  • Maeil Diries Co Ltd leads the organic segment in South Korea with a value share of 49.7% in 2021, followed by Hipp GmbH & Co Vertrieb with 9.6% share and the National Agricultural Cooperative Federation with 6.3%. 
  • The outlook for organic products in South Korea is somewhat muted, with the country ranked 45th globally for forecast CAGR 2021-2026.

 

  • Organic products in South Korea represent roughly 0.6% of global demand and approximately 5.3% of the market in the Asia Pacific region, recording a per capita expenditure of US$6.57 in 2021.
Qualitative Analysis

Qualitative Analysis

Quick Facts
  • Organic packaged food and beverages in South Korea grew by 6.1% in 2021, recording a market size of US$340.3 million. 
  • Double-digit growth in organic rice and organic flavoured milk drinks supported a 6.2% expansion in organic packaged food in 2021.
  • Growth in organic beverages in 2021 was led by Organic fruit/vegetable juices, with a value growth rate of 5.2%.
Market Trends
  • South Korean consumers are increasingly prioritising their health; as a result, there is a huge demand for reduced sugar packaged food and beverages. Traditionally, the local consumers do not find the flat taste of artificial sweeteners appetising; therefore, there was only a limited consumer base for zero-calorie products in South Korea. However, healthier eating habits have encouraged consumers to try more reduced-sugar products, even if they are unfamiliar with the flavour. 
  • Prolonged restrictions due to Covid-19 made consumers to look for healthier alternatives and opt for reduced sugar and reduced salt products – a series of better for you products boasting these claims from Heinz has been welcomed by consumers. Such products are set to gain popularity during the forecast period, especially with the younger generation.
Competitive Landscape
  • Maeil Dairies occupied the leading position within packaged food in South Korea; the company accounted for just over half of the organic packaged food market in 2021. Hipp GmbH & Co Vertrieb KG ranked second with 10% market share in 2021, followed by National Agricultural Cooperative Federation with a market share of 6.5%.
  • Maeil Dairies Co Ltd leads organic beverages market with 31.6% of category sales in 2021, closely followed by Lotte Group (market share of 27.2% in 2021). Nokchawon Co Ltd is ranked third in the category with a market share of 8.2% in 2021.
  • The overall market for organic packaged food and beverages in South Korea is very consolidated compared to the majority of other countries in the APAC region, with the top five brands (Maeil Sangha Mokjang Organic Milk, Hipp Organic Combiotic, Maeil Absolute Goong, Nonghyup, Maeil) making up nearly two-thirds of value sales in 2021.
Prospects And Growth Opportunity
  • Since the Covid-19 pandemic, local consumers have increasingly opted for healthier lifestyles and are paying more attention to various ingredients and their impact on their overall health and wellbeing. Beverages with a “zero” positioning are expected to be a key engine of growth for brands in South Korea over the forecast period. Major players will continue to focus their marketing efforts with “zero” positioning. Other categories like sugar carbonates, zero caffeine coffee, and beers with zero alcohol are likely to appeal to health conscious consumers. 
  • Better for you reduced sugar soft drinks are expected to gain more traction among the health and wellness category over the forecast period. South Korean consumers seek better for you options that do not compromise on taste; therefore, major players will continue to enhance flavour offerings. Moreover, major manufacturers will likely focus on widening their portfolio of products in popular categories such as cola carbonates and lemonade.
  • As major players are focusing on improving flavours, consumers are increasingly changing their perception and now consider reduced sugar carbonates as appetizing, with slight differentiation compared to regular carbonates. Retailers are dedicating more space to new reduced sugar carbonates to increase their portfolio offering. Local retailer E-Mart has established a “zero-calorie zone” to cater to the rapidly growing demand.
General Health And Wellness Trends
  • Health and wellness is predicted to continue on its positive growth trajectory over the forecast period, driven by changing consumption patterns in terms of searching for specific health benefits, a trend accelerated by the pandemic. Naturally healthy products will perform strongly and remain the most significant value category over the forecast period. As international travel will resume, the demand for naturally healthy nuts, seeds and trail mixes will likely grow more, as these products appeal to inbound travellers as popular local souvenirs.
  • Organic claims do not appeal greatly to South Korean consumers as they often doubt the credibility of such claims and do not find distinctive benefits to justify the higher prices of these products. Therefore, organic is predicted to remain a fairly niche segment within overall health and wellness in South Korea. However, positive growth will be driven mainly by baby food, where the organic claim is valued more than any other packaged food category. 
  • With relaxed labelling regulations for fortified/functional food in 2021, the category is likely to see further expansion in terms of product range over the forecast period. This is also likely to encourage domestic pharmaceutical companies to enter the market. Kwang Dong Pharm Co Ltd already has a strong presence in this field with its naturally healthy bottled water and RTD tea.
General Economics And Demographic Landscape

Economy: 

  • The economy of the South Korea is set to continue its recovery in 2022, with real GDP growth forecast to register 3.0% on the back of a 4.0% rebound in 2021.
  • Private final consumption witnessed an increase of 6.0% in 2021, with a growth of 3.5% expected in 2022. 
  • The consumer price index stood at 2.5% in 2021 and is expected to moderate slightly to 2.2% in 2022.

 

Population demographics: 

  • The population of South Korea is witnessing a slow rise, amounting to 51.8 million in 2021. It is expected that the population will only edge up by approximately 0.1 million to reach 51.9 million in 2025
  • The median age was recorded at 44.3 years in 2021 and is expected to reach at 46.7 by 2025.
  • There is a rapid increase in those over the age of 65 years. The proportion of those over 65 years is expected to increase to 20.3% in 2025 from 16.5% in 2021.

 

Income & expenditure: 

  • The savings ratio in South Korea amounted to 18.3% of disposable income in 2021, with the rate expected to climb slightly to 18.8% in 2022. 
  • Consumer expenditure per capita was recorded at US$15,136 in 2021, with a growth of 3.6% expected in 2022. Communications is expected to be the largest category in terms of consumer expenditure for the period 2020-2030. 
  • Disposable income per capita, which amounted to US$18,877 in 2021, is expected to increase by 4.1% in 2022. For the period 2020-2030, disposable income is expected to witness a cumulative increase of 29.1% in real terms, growing at an annual average rate of 2.6%.
Data

Data

Organic Packaged Food And Beverage Data

Data type

Unit

2018

2019

2020

2021

2022

2023

2024

2025

CAGR
(18-21)

CAGR
(22-25)

Health & wellness products consumption

USD million

7,707.6

7,890.1

8,214.9

8,651.0

8,956.9

9,166.3

9,400.3

9,636.5

3.9%

2.5%

Organic packaged food and beverages consumption

USD million

270.4

293.0

320.7

340.3

353.7

362.6

369.5

376.4

8.0%

2.1%

Organic packaged food consumption

USD million

261.9

280.6

307.7

326.8

339.8

348.6

354.8

360.7

7.7%

2.0%

Organic beverages consumption

USD million

8.5

12.4

13.0

13.5

13.9

14.0

14.8

15.7

16.7%

4.1%

Organic packaged food and beverages consumption as a % of total health & wellness products consumption

%

3.5

3.7

3.9

3.9

3.9

4.0

3.9

3.9

-

-

 

[1] Health and Wellness Definition: Health and wellness is the aggregation of organic packaged food and beverages, fortified/functional packaged food and beverages, naturally healthy packaged food and beverages, better for you packaged food and beverages and food intolerance products. The above definition and more can be referenced from the definitions table at the end of the report.

Economic And Demographic Data

Data type

Unit

2018

2019

2020

2021

2022

2023

2024

2025

Total population

million

51.6

51.7

51.8

51.8

51.8

51.9

51.9

51.9

% Middle and upper class of total population

%

35.9

35.8

35.8

35.7

35.7

35.7

35.7

35.6

% Population aged 65+

%

14.3

14.8

15.7

16.5

17.3

18.2

19.2

20.3

% Population aged 0-14

%

12.8

12.5

12.2

11.9

11.6

11.2

10.9

10.6

% Population with higher education degrees

%

30.9

30.9

30.9

30.9

30.8

30.8

30.8

30.8

Average number of children per household

children

0.4

0.4

0.4

0.4

0.3

0.3

0.3

0.3

GDP per capita

USD per capita

32,147.6

32,528.5

32,629.6

34,733.4

35,755.9

36,741.0

37,576.0

38,331.3

Consumer expenditure per capita (US$)

USD per capita

14,515.3

14,967.5

14,427.2

15,136.1

15,673.5

16,056.2

16,396.2

16,722.2

Consumer expenditure per capita on food and non-alcoholic beverages (US$)

USD per capita

1,663.7

1,703.1

1,857.8

1,834.4

1,832.0

1,846.9

1,876.6

1,907.6

 

Retailer And City Data

Top 5 Cities By Population

Data category

Rank

City/retailer

Population
(millions)

Top cities by population (2021)

1

Seoul

24.3

Top cities by population (2021)

2

Busan

3.4

Top cities by population (2021)

3

Daegu

2.7

Top cities by population (2021)

4

Daejeon

1.6

Top cities by population (2021)

5

Gwangju

1.4

 

Top 5 Grocery Retailers By Sales

Data category

Rank

City/retailer

Top grocery retailers by sales (2021)

1

Shinsegae Co Ltd

Top grocery retailers by sales (2021)

2

GS Holdings Corp

Top grocery retailers by sales (2021)

3

BGF Retail Co Ltd

Top grocery retailers by sales (2021)

4

Homeplus Co Ltd

Top grocery retailers by sales (2021)

5

Lotte Group

 

United States Department Of Agriculture Global Agricultural Trade System Data

Top 5 Export Commodities To South Korea

Year

Country

Rank of
Product/Commodity

Product/Commodity

Export Value (US$)

2021

South Korea

1

Organic Grapes Fresh

7,290,165

2021

South Korea

2

Organic Coffee Roast Not Decaf

3,950,882

2021

South Korea

3

Organic Grapefruit Fresh

2,840,288

2021

South Korea

4

Organic Lettuce Not Head Fr/Ch

1,134,803

2021

South Korea

5

Organic Vinegar and Substitutes

936,764

2021

South Korea

Total

Total Organics*

19,515,465

2020

South Korea

1

Organic Grapes Fresh

14,058,365

2020

South Korea

2

Organic Cherries Fresh

6,601,398

2020

South Korea

3

Organic Lettuce Not Head Fr/Ch

4,042,145

2020

South Korea

4

Organic Oranges Fr/Dr

2,970,000

2020

South Korea

5

Organic Coffee Roast Not Decaf

2,895,223

2020

South Korea

Total

Total Organics*

37,385,746

2019

South Korea

1

Organic Grapes Fresh

11,466,518

2019

South Korea

2

Organic Cherries Fresh

2,477,830

2019

South Korea

3

Organic Coffee Roast Not Decaf

1,958,950

2019

South Korea

4

Organic Cult Blueberries Fresh

1,779,986

2019

South Korea

5

Organic Grapefruit Fresh

1,337,302

2019

South Korea

Total

Total Organics*

23,114,185

2018

South Korea

1

Organic Grapes Fresh

18,851,985

2018

South Korea

2

Organic Cherries Fresh

6,381,790

2018

South Korea

3

Organic Coffee Roast Not Decaf

5,389,778

2018

South Korea

4

Organic Grapefruit Fresh

2,093,601

2018

South Korea

5

Organic Cult Blueberries Fresh

1,271,000

2018

South Korea

Total

Total Organics*

38,121,057

 

Note : Total organics is the sum of all exports in a particular year

Definitions

Definitions

Term

Definition

Health and Wellness

Health and wellness is the aggregation of organic packaged food and beverages, fortified/functional packaged food and beverages, naturally healthy packaged food and beverages, better for you packaged food and beverages and food intolerance products.

Organic packaged foods and beverages

This category includes packaged food & beverages that are certified organic by an approved certification body. Organic production is based on:

• A system of farming that maintains and replenishes soil fertility without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers.
• Organic food & beverages are minimally processed without artificial ingredients, preservatives or irradiation.
• The use of GMOs (Genetically Modified Organism) is prohibited. “Certified Organic” means the item has been grown according to strict uniform standards that are verified by independent state or private organizations.
• Depending on the country, such products are called ‘organic’, ‘biological’ or ‘ecological’: For organic products to be included under Euromonitor definitions, the organic aspect needs to form part of positioning/marketing of the product. This is an aggregation of organic baby food, bakery, confectionery, dairy, ice cream, oils and fats, ready meals, rice, sauces, dressings and condiments, snack bars, soups, spreads, sweet and savory snacks and other organic food.

Note that fresh food products or individual ingredients are not included in this definition.

Compound annual growth rate (CAGR)

The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) is the average annual growth rate over a specified period of time. For instance, the CAGR consumption of from 2018 – 2021 will be the average growth rates across these three years.

USDA GATS data clarification

The data presented in table 2.4 represents the dollar values of the top 5 organic commodities as well as of the total organic exports of the trade partner for the period 2018-2021 as per the United States Department of Agriculture’s Global Agricultural Trade System, a database consisting of international agricultural, fish, forest and textile products trade statistics dating from the inception of the Harmonized coding system in 1989 to present.

Policy Information

Policy Information

Government Agency(s) / Competent Authority

Authorized Government Agency(s):

Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA)
MAFRA's National Agricultural Product Quality Management Service (NAQS) is responsible for setting quality standards and grades for agricultural products, enforcing country of origin marks, GMO labeling requirements, and organic labeling for fresh fruits, vegetables, and grains in the marketplace, accrediting certifiers of non-processed organic produce, and post monitoring of labeling of organic processed food products in the market place. NAQS collects samples from retail markets and tests products for GMO content with RDA-developed testing methods.

Agency(s) Contact Information:

Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA)
94 Dasom2-ro
Government Complex-Sejong
Sejong-si 339-012,
Republic of Korea
Telephone: +82-2-6196-9110
Web

National Agricultural Products Quality Management Service (NAQS)
141 YONGJEONRO GIMCHEONSI GYEONGBUK
Telephone: +82-54-429-4000 
Web 

Environment-Friendly Agriculture Division of the MAFRA
Telephone:  82-44-201-2432
Fax:  82-44-868-0483
Email:  chds@korea.kr or kbb0922@korea.kr
Web

Organic Regulations and/or Standards

Name(s) of Regulation and/or Standard:

The US has had an organic equivalence arrangement with Korea for organic processed foods since July 1, 2014.  Organic processed products certified in Korea or in the US may be sold as organic in either country.

Korea also has an equivalency arrangement with the European Union
 
Korean Organic Regulations (KOR)
 
The Act on the Management and Support for the Promotion of Eco-Friendly Agriculture/Fisheries and Organic Foods consolidates Korea's organic regulations, and is sometimes referred to as the New Organic Regulations. 
 
Environment-friendly Agriculture Promotion Act (.pdf; Korean and official translation in English)
- Enforcement Regulations and Annexes
- Guidelines on Designation as a Foreign Certification Body
 
Food Industry Promotion Act (.pdf; bilingual, scroll down for English) 
- Enforcement Decree
- Enforcement Regulations and Annexes
- Guidelines for Designating and Operating Certification Agencies
- Certification Inspection by Site and Related Training Sessions
- Operational Guidelines for the Organic Processed Food Certification Program

Date of Implementation: 2011

Regulation and/or Standard Scope:

The new Act on the Management and Support for the Promotion of Eco-Friendly Agriculture/Fisheries and Organic Foods consolidates Korea's organic regulations, and is sometimes referred to as the New Organic Regulations. Certification by a MAFRA-approved certifier is required for fresh produce, livestock, and processed products, unless it is a processed organic product that meets the requirements of the US - Korea equivelence agreement effective July 1, 2014. 

Imported Products

The U.S. has an organic equivalence arrangement with Korea for organic processed foods. See also Korea's page on the organic equivalency arrangement.

Korea also has an equivalency arrangement with the European Union for organic processed food. 

The equivalency arrangements apply ONLY to processed products as defined by the Korean Food Code (Korean Food Code 1.2.29): "Processed food" refers to a food manufactured, processed, and packaged by adding food or food additives to food raw materials (agricultural, forestry, livestock, or marine products), transforming food raw materials (such as grinding or cutting) till their original forms cannot be recognized, or mixing such transformed ones or adding food or food additives to such mixture. However, where, without the use of food additives or other materials, the agricultural, forestry, livestock, or marine products are simply cut, peeled, salted, ripened, or heated (except the cases where heating is performed for sterilization or heating causes significant changes to those products) till their original forms can be recognized or where sanitary risks from treatment processes are not expected and food raw materials are simply treated so as to allow organoleptic identification of food quality, such food products are excluded from the definition of the processed food.”

The equivalency arrangements do NOT provide for equivalency for trade in raw and unprocessed products in accordance with the Korean Food Code. There are no provisions in the agreements covering organic aquaculture. All domestic and imported organic products other than those covered by the equivalency must be certified by a MAFRA-accredited certifying agent.

Critical Variances

US - Korea organic equivalency arrangement covers products which: 

 

  • Are certified to the USDA or Korean organic regulations 
  • Are “processed products” as defined by the Korean Food Code 
  • Contain at least 95% organic ingredients 
  • Have their final processing (as defined in the Korean Food Code) occur in the US or Korea 
  • U.S. products: do not contain apples or pears produced with the use of antibiotics 
  • Korean products: do not contain livestock products produced with the use of antibiotics 

Korean Food Code

Seal Use

Use of equivalent country organic seals and/or the MAFRA Organic Logo is allowed and optional, provided that products meet the USDA/Korean labeling requirements.

Organic agricultural produce complying with the U.S. organic standards or international standards still needs certification from MAFRA's official certification agency to carry a "Korean language organic label" in the Korean market.

Other Import Requirements

Korea’s import tolerances system assesses safety and sets a maximum residue limit (MRL) of a pesticide that remains in food according to the regulations of foreign countries, if the product imposes no threat to human health, in the case an MRL has not been previously established in Korea.

US processed organic products exported to Korea must be accompanied by the NAQS Import Certificate of Organic Processed Foods that includes the statement “Certified in compliance with the terms of the US – Korea Organic Equivalency Arrangement.” Also, a copy of USDA/NOP organic certificate shall be submitted for import inspection in Korea.

Special Act on Imported Food Safety Control (2016)
Foreign facilities, including food facilities, packing houses, grain storage facilities, fishery plants, etc., that handle products inspected by Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) must register and agree to inspection by MFDS. See details at MFDS Imported Food Safety link.   

 

Certification and Accreditation

The control and certification process is performed by private certification bodies accredited by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA) and audited by the National Agricultural Products Management Service (NAQS).

Outline of Certification System
Certification Application Info
Overview of Organic Processed Food Certification

Additional Information

U.S. International Trade Administration

USDA GAIN Report Organic Foods Market Report (2019)
USDA GAIN Report Retail Foods (2021)
USDA GAIN Report HRI Food Service Sector Report (2021)
USDA GAIN Report Food Processing Ingredients (2021)
USDA GAIN Report Retail Foods Biennial Report (2017)
USDA GAIN Report Korea's New Biotech Labeling Requirements (2017)
USDA GAIN Report Exporter Guide (2021)
USDA GAIN Report Korea's Special Act on Imported Food Safety Management (2016)
USDA GAIN Report Republic of Korea Food and Agricultural Import Regulations and Standards - Certification (2020)
USDA GAIN Report Republic of Korea Food and Agricultural Import Regulations and Standards - Narrative (2017)
USDA GAIN Report Food and Agricultural Import Regulations and Standards Country Report (2022)
USDA GAIN Report Food and Agricultural Import Regulations and Standards Export Certificate Report (2022)
USDA GAIN Report Pet Food Market Update (2016)