South Korea's beer imports rise 28.5% year-over-year in H1 to record US$50.8M, according to customs data; imports total record 53,618 tons, up 29.2%

SEOUL, South Korea , July 16, 2014 () – South Korea imported a record amount of beer in terms of value and weight in the first half of this year, outdoing exports for the first time, customs data showed Wednesday.

Beer imports to the country surged 28.5 percent on-year to US$50.8 million during the January-June period, the highest figure since comparable numbers were first made available in 2000, according to data compiled by the Korea Customs Service.

In terms of tonnage, the imports logged a record high of 53,618 tons during the period, up 29.2 percent from the year before, the data showed.

The records were set early in the peak season that continues through August. Industry watchers say imports may well exceed $100 million by the end of the year.

Imported beer, whose tonnage has increased more than 15 times since 2000, has continued to flourish in the local market on the back of a growing preference for new tastes among consumers here.

"With more customers looking to try out new brands of beer, imported beer will maintain its popularity," said Kim Jin-kun, a liquor merchandiser at South Korea's largest discount chain operator E-Mart Co.

Imports of Japanese beer came to 13,818 tons, accounting for the largest portion of the figure at 25.8 percent. The list was trailed by the Netherlands, Germany, and China at 8,887 tons, 7,825 tons and 5,067 tons, respectively.

South Korea's beer exports during the first six months of 2014 remained unchanged from last year at 53,451 tons, marking the first time for imports to outpace exports in terms of tonnage, according to the data.

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