S.Korean wine imports almost double in 2021 amid pandemic

South Korea’s wine imports nearly doubled in the first eight months of 2021 from a year earlier as more people enjoyed drinking at home and alone amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, data revealed on Thursday.

The country, Asia’s fourth-largest economy, imported $370.5 million worth of wine in the January-August period, up 96.5 per cent from a year earlier, according to the data by the Korea Customs Service and industry sources.

The figure surpassed last year’s imports worth about $330 million and exceeded those of beer, which amounted to $147.8 million in the eight-month period, reports Yonhap News Agency.

Industry sources said wine imports soared in the first eight months as people preferred drinking by themselves at home instead of going to bars amid the pandemic.

France was the largest exporter of wine to South Korea at $116.2 million, followed by the US at $61.04 million, Chile at some $57 million and Spain at $28.65 million.

In contrast, beer imports dipped in the first half as imports of Japanese brands tumbled on a boycott of goods from the neighbouring country due to Tokyo’s curbs on exports of key materials to Seoul.

Also responsible was the growing popularity of homegrown craft beer among local drinkers, according to the sources.

South Korea’s beer imports fell to $226.9 million last year from $281 million in 2019.

In particular, imports of Japanese brands plunged to $5.7 million last year from $39.8 million, according to the data.