Industry Report

An overview of the South Korean food market

and business opportunities for Swiss SMEs

Food imports have increased sharply in South Korea - in 2020 they grew by almost 30 per cent compared to 2011. Swiss products are also in demand. Read the report or watch the webinar by our local experts to find out which Swiss foodstuffs, apart from coffee and chocolate, are particularly trendy, for which Swiss products there is hidden potential and how SMEs are successfully mastering market entry into the Asian country.


Korean food culture is diverse, Koreans have developed new preferences for flavors and ingredients and enjoy foreign cultures and cuisines. As a result of this, exports of Swiss foodstuffs to South Korea have also increased continuously over the last five years. In 2020 alone, they increased by 32 per cent to 150 million Swiss francs compared to the previous year. Coffee tops the list of Swiss food exports to Korea, followed by food additives, chocolate, health and nutritional supplements and confectionery. There is also potential for numerous other products such as cheese, organic food or beverages.

"QUEST" - the keyword for success in South Korea

Swiss companies wishing to export to South Korea should note the acronym "QUEST". It has been defined as the keyword for South Korea 2021 and stands for Quality, User-friendly, E-Commerce, Speciality and Target.

  • Quality: is the most important factor for consumers in South Korea when buying fresh food. Competition in the delivery of high-quality fresh foods is expected to increase in 2021 as more consumers want access to fresh produce.
  • User-friendly: the need of customers for the convenience provided by online and offline channels. Companies will be forced to expand corresponding services.
  • E-commerce: has become an important distribution channel in the wake of the pandemic.
  • Specialty: Specialist stores, private labels and renewals of existing brands are likely to continue to focus on offering differentiated goods and services to meet the ever-changing needs of their customers.
  • Target: Following the virus outbreak, shoppers aged 50 and over have emerged as important online customers. This example shows that food companies need to change their marketing strategies to appeal to these different population groups.

What to look out for when exporting to South Korea

In a detailed report and webinar, our local experts from the Swiss Business Hub South Korea explain the opportunities and challenges for Swiss SMEs wishing to export food to South Korea. The report and webinar provide an overview of the market, current trends, key players, applicable regulations and business opportunities for Swiss SMEs.


Food market in South Korea (04/2021)


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