South Korea's imports of kimchi touched an all-time high in 2022 amid galloping consumer inflation in the country, government data showed Wednesday.
Inbound shipments of the spicy Korean traditional side dish came to $169.4 million last year, up 20.4 percent from a year earlier, according to the data from the Korea Customs Service.
The on-year growth rate was the highest since the 53.8 percent surge recorded in 2010.
Kimchi is a traditional Korean side dish normally made of fermented cabbage, salt and hot peppers, and is eaten with almost all meals.
The jump in kimchi imports was attributed to high prices of cabbage, other ingredients and locally made kimchi products, which prompted restaurants and other users to resort to cheaper imports from China.
Daesang FNF, South Korea's leading kimchi maker, and other industry players hiked product prices by nearly 10 percent last year. The per-ton price of imported kimchi amounted to $643, much lower than $3,425 for kimchi exports.
In contrast, South Korea's kimchi exports shrank nearly 12 percent last year, with the country's kimchi trade balance swinging to a deficit in one year.
Overseas shipments of kimchi sank 11.9 percent on-year to $140.8 million last year, the first on-year decline in seven years. That resulted in a trade deficit of $28.58 million in the sector, the largest red ink in four years.
Last year's figure was also down from a record high of $159.9 million a year earlier, which was bolstered by strong overseas demand amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Yonhap)