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Organic food market in South Korea - statistics & facts

Following growing concerns about food safety and food quality, the demand for organic foods in South Korea is on the rise. Since organic foods are recognized as being a healthier option, especially families are looking into buying organic. A strong example are organic baby food products: Despite the low birth rate, the organic baby food market has grown around 15.3 percent between 2013 and 2017.

While products like organic baby food are on the rise, around 83.3 percent of surveyed South Koreans stated that they prefer buying organic vegetables in April 2019. The same survey found that around 3.4 percent of surveyed would only buy organic food products. This was the lowest percentage among eleven surveyed Asian countries.

Nevertheless, consumers grew sceptic after the use of fake certifications for eco-friendly agriculture has been exposed during the previous years. Additionally, many farms that were found to have an excessive contamination in 2017 were certified as organic. On the other hand, Korean consumers tend to trust the quality of organic foods from the United States and European countries.

Following the 'Environment-Friendly Agriculture/Fishery and Organic Foods Act (Organic Act)' in 2013, imported organic food may only be sold as organic if it has a certificate by the Ministry of Food, Agriculture, and Rural Affairs (MAFRA). This led to a sudden decline of organic food imports until trading agreements with the United States and Europe were established in 2014 and in 2015. Organic food imports from the United States are well perceived, but the imports from European countries are rising as well. While consumers trust the quality of the products from those countries, these imports often focus on processed food.

However, countries such as Chile and China are among the leading countries of origin with unprocessed organic low-price foods. In a survey conducted in April 2019, around 26.6 percent of respondents stated they would not want to spend more money on organic food than on conventional food. The same survey also found that for around 60 percent of surveyed the main reason for not buying organic food was the high price.

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Organic food market in South Korea

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