Monday, 22 October 2018


South Korea’s potato imports increased substantially over the past decade to 155,371 metric tons (MT) in CY 2017, up 161% from 59,421 MT in CY 2008, according to a report of USDA. 

The American authority explains this happened for two reasons: changed dietary patterns to more westernized diets and increased demand for various processed potato products in restaurants and the quick service restaurant (QSR) sector.

For the past decade (CY 2008 – CY 2017), prepared potato products (frozen French fries) imports increased 172% to 111,670 MT in CY 2017 from 41,023 MT in CY 2008. Meanwhile, fresh potato imports (mainly chipping potatoes) increased 123% to 37,525 MT in CY 2017 from 16,826 MT in CY 2008.

In particular, imports of French fries comprised 72% (111,670 MT) of total potato and potato products imports (155,371 MT) in CY 2017. The French fries were mainly imported from the United States and Canada, with 86,559 MT (77.5%) and 12,645 MT (11.3%), respectively. Korea’s fresh potato imports increased significantly from CY 2015 due to the popularity of potato chips, including honey butter flavored products in the snack market. The United States and Australia are the main suppliers for fresh potatoes (chipping potatoes) in the Korean market, covering 46% and 54%, respectively in CY 2017.

In CY 2017, of the total imported potato and potato products (155,371 MT), the United States was the dominant supplier in Korea with a 70% share (108,076 MT) followed by Australia with a 13% share, and Canada with an 8.1% share. Fresh potatoes for chipping are imported seasonally to avoid competition with domestic production, while prepared potato products (French fries) are imported throughout the year.

Korean potato production is expected to increase to 530,000 metric tons (MT) in Calendar Year (CY) 2018, as potato farmers respond to higher prices caused by low supply in CY 2017. Overall consumption is expected to remain steady, but consumers continue to shift away from fresh domestic potato consumption and toward consumption of imported potatoes and imported processed potato products (including potatoes used for chipping and French fries), according to the USDA.

U.S. exports of fresh table potatoes are projected to increase in CY 2018 following the resumption of trade from states in the Pacific Northwest after the resolution of a phytosanitary issue (zebra chip), according to the American institution.

In Calendar Year (CY) 2018, Korea’s potato production is expected to increase to 530,000 metric tons (MT), up 14% from the previous year, as farmers slightly increase cultivated area in order to recover from reduced production in 2017.

An increased number of low temperature warehouse facilities in Korea have created the possibility for longer potato storage periods. Therefore, autumn potato production, which was previously distributed during the winter season, has gradually declined. Meanwhile, spring potatoes are seeded in February and harvested and marketed from the end of May. Of the total potato production in Korea in CY 2016, spring potatoes accounted for 71% (393,670 MT), highland (summer season) potatoes accounted for a 22% (121,927 MT), and autumn potatoes accounted for 7.2% (40,073 MT). 

Related articles: 

UK Continues to Export Potato Chips, but Imports Frozen Fries

Georgia Strives to Reduce Dependence on Potato Imports 

Mexican Court Forbids Imports of US Potatoes

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