OUT OF FAVOUR: SOUTH KOREA’S WHISKY IMPORTS HIT 21-YEAR LOW IN 2020
By Siulan Law Mathews DipWSET
Credit: Dylan de Jonge/Unsplash
South Korea's imports of whisky plunged to a 21-year low in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic and a change in preference of alcohol categories among consumers, Yonhap News Agency quoted customs data as reporting.
It is reported that value of whisky imports amounted to USD132.5million last year, down 13.9 percent from the previous year, according to the data from the Korea Customs Service.
This is the lowest level since 1999 when value of whisky imports plummeted to USD115.9mn in the wake of the Asian financial crisis.
In stark contrast to the decline in whisky imports, South Korea’s wine imports hit all time high in 2020.
South Korea imported USD239mn worth of wines in January to November last year, much higher than the USD204mn for the whole of 2019, according customs data.
Excluding numbers for December, last year’s figure was already more than double the USD113mn recorded in 2011, indicating fast growths in a decade.
South Korea's whisky imports had been on the skids since peaking at USD270.3mn in 2007.
Yonhap said the downturn follows the implementation of the country's draconian anti-graft law in 2016 and the start of a shorter 52-hour work week in 2018.
Whiskies are sold mostly at expensive bars and drinking establishments in South Korea, and are widely viewed as part of business-related meals and entertainment, with the introduction of the 52-hour work week, many businesses started to cut back on entertainment budgets thus affecting demands of whiskies.
Sales of global distiller Diageo’s South Korea unit plummeted 32.6 percent year-on-year to 200billion won (USD179mn) last year, with its operating income nose-dived about 60 percent to 20bn won.
The company closed its whisky plant in Icheon last June due to low utilisation and cost competitiveness.
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