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Meat market in South Korea - Statistics & Facts

Bulgogi, Samgyeopsal, Galbi, Samgyetang, or even Korean Fried Chicken – a majority of Korea’s most popular dishes are heavily meat based. Meat is found in most Korean dishes and is valued in South Korean society. The total sales volume of meat in South Korea was at around 2.55 million tons in 2018 and is expected to increase up to 2.63 million tons by 2023. Around half of the sales volume of meat consisted of pork, followed by poultry, and beef and veal.


In order to meet the country’s demands, around 5.23 billion U.S. dollars’ worth of meat and edible meat offal were imported to South Korea in 2019. Almost half of the imported meat was imported from the United States. The meat trade between the two countries is important for both sides: As of 2018, South Korea was the second biggest export destination for U.S. beef exports. Meanwhile, more than one third of the pork meat imported in 2018 originated in the United States.

Household spending

In 2019, each household spent around 48.7 thousand South Korean won per month on meat. As of 2017, the main distribution channels for meat were hypermarkets and supermarkets, where more than two thirds of meat were sold. While online grocery shopping is increasingly popular in South Korea, consumers are reluctant to buy fresh meat online, ranking second place after seafood as the least popular grocery product for online shopping in the beginning of 2019.

Current trends

While a growing number of countries show a trend towards meat avoidance, the number of meat avoiders in South Korea is slightly increasing, but not significant. Between 2014 and 2018, the retail sales of free from meat products did slightly increase but is not forecasted to rise further. Due to the current wellness boom in South Korea, white chicken meat is enjoying increased popularity. As a low-fat protein, chicken meat has now the image of a HMR (health management resources) item.

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Meat market in South Korea

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