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Processed rice goods emerge as dark horse in agri-food exports

K-culture boom and demand for HMR drive exports of processed rice goods to hit an all-time high in 2020

Sep 15, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

Despite the global pandemic, exports of processed rice goods hit an all-time high at $137.6 million in 2020, up by 26.9% compared to the previous year. The increase is likely owing to the South Korean government aiding overseas entry and export companies opening up new markets alongside executing online promotions in response to the contactless environment.
Even in the first half of this year, processed rice goods maintained high growth with the export volume reaching $79.7 million.

Source: Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, The Korea Rice Foodstuffs Association

Export amount of processed rice products

What are processed rice products?

Food products made using rice as an ingredient. These include bread, cookies, rice cakes, pasta, processed rice, soup, beverages, rice powder and other processed grain products.

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Exported items

Rice cakes, including tteokbokki or spicy hot rice cakes, saw an increase in exports as the popularity of Korean culture, or hallyu, drove consumption in Asian markets including Japan and China. Processed rice goods such as frozen fried rice and instant rice also buoyed increased exports due to surging demand for home meal replacements amid the COVID-19 crisis.

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Export performance per region

In 2020, the US was the No. 1 importer of Korean processed rice products, followed by Japan, Vietnam and China.
In particular, exports to the US rose by 53.3% compared to the year-earlier period, accounting for 40.2% of the overall processed rice goods export amount. The increased exports are likely due to rising demand for processed grain goods from Koreans living abroad.

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Plans to foster processed rice industry

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