China has overtaken France, other producers of bottled water in South Korean markets, according to South Korean customs data; imports of Chinese bottled water to South Korea reaches 8,520 tons in May, followed by France with 1,600 tons, Italy at 176 tons

SEOUL, South Korea , June 17, 2014 () – China has overtaken France and other producers of bottled water in the South Korean market, customs data showed Tuesday.

According to the Korea Customs Service (KCS), imports of Chinese bottled water reached 8,520 tons in May, followed by France with 1,600 tons, Italy with 176 tons and the United States with 60 tons.

France had been unchallenged in dominating the local market from 1995 to 2012 but was overtaken by China in 2013.

Imports of Chinese bottled water products spiked to 55,750 tons last year, a leap from 3,609 tons in 2012 to outdo 9,615 tons from France, data showed.

In the first five months of this year, South Korea imported 36,114 tons from China, beating 4,209 tons from France.

The jump in imports of Chinese bottled water sent the volume of South Korea's total imports of the product in May to the highest monthly tally of 10,582 tons worth US$3.75 million since January 2000 when the agency started compiling related data.

Industry sources say a stiff rivalry between two local companies led to the spike in imports.

Lotte Chilsung Beverage Co. and Nongshim Co. have been competing to import water from the Chinese side of Mount Baekdu, known to provide unpolluted drinking water, since October 2012.

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