The import of Japanese beer to Korea nearly halved in 2019 in the aftermath of Koreans' boycott of Japanese goods triggered by a trade feud between the two countries, data showed Thursday.
This marks the first beer import market decrease in ten years.
According to the Korea Customs Service, the import volume of Japanese beer fell to 47,331 tons last year, down 45.3 percent from a year ago. The import had been on the increase between February and June but it has plunged since July when Korea's boycott campaign gained momentum.
Monthly imports stood at 9,468 tons in June but plunged to 4 tons in September. The amount has since increased slightly with 35 tons in October, 131 tons in November and 249 tons in December.
Japanese beer such as Asahi and Sapporo was the leading import beer in Korea for ten years, but after the boycott movement, Japanese beer fell to 13th place as of August last year.
Main distribution channels, convenience stores, also opted out of including Japanese beers in special offers which led to a decrease in consumption.
This led to an overall decrease in beer imports, showing a downturn for the first time in since 2009. Beer imports decreased by 7.1 percent or 27,849 tons, to 360,132 tons worth $396.8 million from the previous year.
The sharp fall in imports of Japanese beer was offset by an increase in imports from other countries. Beer imports from the Netherlands increased the most with 5,394 tons, and those from Belgium and China followed with 4,928 tons and 3,667 tons respectively.
According to the CU convenience store, sales of Japanese beer fell more than 90 percent during the first six months of the boycott movement that started in July. On the other hand, domestic beer sales have increased more than 30 percent.
Craft beer saw a huge jump in 2019, increasing by 220.4 percent compared to that of the previous year. The percentage of domestic craft beer sales also increased to 5.6 percent in 2019 from 1.9 percent in 2018.
Experts say domestic beer companies will gain cost competitiveness with the change of law effective from this year levying tax on beer by volume, not price.