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Beer imports from Japan more than double in Q1

April 17, 2024 - 16:27 By Shim Woo-hyun
Asahi's beer products are shown at a local discount store. (Yonhap)

South Korea's imports of Japanese beer products more than doubled on-year in the first quarter this year, despite a 20 percent drop in the country's overall beer imports during the same period, government data showed Wednesday.

According to the Korea Customs Service, the combined value of Korea's beer imports in the January-March period decreased by 19.8 percent on-year to reach $45.2 million. In terms of volume, the country' beer imports went down by 24.1 percent to 48,322 tons.

Beer imports from Japan, however, soared during the first three months. Total Japanese imports were up by 103.5 percent to 7,137 tons. The value also more than doubled to $14.9 million compared to a year ago.

Japanese brands had sat atop imported beers here until 2018, but sales started tumbling in 2019, when relations between Korea and Japan soured following renewed wartime slavery issues.

The "No Japan" sentiment became prevalent among consumers here, driving down the overall sales of Japanese products, especially their popular beer products.

Amid budding efforts to improve bilateral ties in 2022, Japanese beer sales also started to recover. Beer imports tumbled to just $1 million in the first quarter of 2020, ticking up to $1.7 million in the same quarter of 2021 and $2.7 million in 2022.

The figure continued to soar to $6.6 million last year and $14.9 million this year.

In line with the recent increases, annual sales of Lotte Asahi Liquor, Lotte Group's affiliate that imports liquor products, increased to 138.6 billion won ($100 million), up 330.5 percent on-year. Its operating profits also jumped to 42 billion won, up 1,095 percent on-year.

Meanwhile, Korea's Chinese beer imports continued to remain low. Compared to the first quarter of last year, beer imports from China decreased by 61.9 percent to $4.8 million.

"Sales of Chinese beer seem to have not recovered yet since the hygiene incident at a Tsingtao brewery was revealed last year," an official from a local liquor company said.