Report Highlights: 

Korea is an excellent market for American fruit juices. Local fruits are mainly targeting fresh table fruit market, which makes Korea’s well established juice processing industry further rely on imported juices to bottle fruit juice and other beverage products. In addition, Korean consumer’s diversified taste and demand for premium quality juices are generating increased demand for imported juice products in retail packaging. The United States remained the leading exporter of fruit juices to Korea in 2013 by accounting for over 49 percent of the $182 million of fruit juices that Korea imported. Orange, grape and apple juice have been the leading products that the United States exported to Korea. However, specialty fruit juices such as grapefruit, blueberry and cranberry are likely to see strong export growth to Korea in the coming year.

Market Overview 

South Korea (herein after referred to Korea) maintains strong demand for fruit juice products. Its 50 million aging population is well versed on the health and nutritional benefits of drinking fruit juices or beverages that contain fruit juices. 

Although Korea harvests a significant amount of fruits locally (water melon, apple, Asian pear, grape and tangerine orange are the major local crops), a majority of the local fruits are destined for the retail stores for fresh consumption to justify the high farming cost. Furthermore, Korea’s four distinctive seasons limit the supply of local fruits during winter through spring months, which makes Korea further rely on imported fruit juices to fulfill the high demand. 

A majority of the fruit juices imported by Korea are used by the local beverage processing industry. Korea maintains a well-established beverage processing industry that bottles a wide variety of fruit juices or beverages that contain fruit juices. There were 1,994 beverage processors in Korea in 2012 that produced a total of 3.2 million tons of beverage products. Fruit juices or beverages containing fruit juices accounted for 20.7 percent of the industry production. It is notable that many American juice brands, including SUNKIST, Minute Maid, Delmont, Tropicana, are currently being bottled in Korea for local distribution under business partnership agreement with leading Korean beverage processors. 

Korea’s imports of fruit juices totaled 67,105 metric tons ($181.9 million) in 2013, down 4.1 percent from the previous year. A majority of the imports were reportedly concentrated juices for local blending and bottling. The United States remained the leading supplier of fruit juices to Korea by shipping 32,248 metric tons ($89.4 million), up 36.2 percent from 2012. The strong growth of imports from the United States was due to reduction of import tariffs on American fruit juices under the Korea-United States Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) implemented in 2012. Orange, grape and apple juice have been the leading products that the United States shipped to Korea over the years. However, traders report that specialty juices including pomegranate, blueberry and cranberry are likely to show strong import growth in the coming year due to Korean consumer’s increased attention to beverages of health promoting functionality. 

By the way, Korea’s imports of fruit juices have shown a significant decline in 2014. Overall imports through August totaled 39,764 metric tons, down 14.1 percent from the same period the previous year. Imports from the U.S. also declined 35.1 percent to 13, 867 metric tons. The sharp decline was reportedly due to reduced citrus harvest in California and Florida in early 2014 season