The Korea Herald


Dried seaweed, ramyeon exports hit new highs

By Shim Woo-hyun

Published : Dec. 10, 2023 - 16:07

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Customers are at a ramyeon section at a local discount store in Seoul, Sunday. (Yonhap) Customers are at a ramyeon section at a local discount store in Seoul, Sunday. (Yonhap)

South Korea’s exports of dried seaweed and Korean instant noodles, called ramyeon, are expected to hit record highs this year, according to government data and industry sources, Sunday.

According to data from the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, outbound shipments of dried seaweed reached $670 million between January and October, up 20.4 percent on-year.

Dried seaweed exports continued to increase in November to reach $702 million as of Nov. 10, topping the previous record of $690 million for 2021.

“Exports of dried seaweed products could surpass 1 trillion won by the end of this year for the first time,” an official from the ministry said. The ministry’s plan is to support seaweed exports to increase to $1 billion by 2027.

The ministry explained that overseas sales of Korean seaweed products increased amid their growing popularity as low-calorie, healthy snacks among foreigners.

By country, the US was the top importer of Korean seaweed products with $150 million as of Nov. 10, followed by Japan with $140 million and China with $90 million.

Exports of ramyeon have already hit an all-time high this year, thanks to the rising popularity of Korean food products in overseas markets in recent years.

Data from the Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corp. showed that ramyeon exports reached $785 million during the January-October period, surpassing the combined export volume of ramyeon products last year, which stood at $765 million.

As of Nov. 25, Korea’s ramyeon exports came to around $840 million, up 25.4 percent on-year. The figure is almost twice as high as that of 2018, when ramyeon exports reached $413 million.

Korea's exports of ramyeon products started to soar in 2020, posting a 29-percent increase to reach $636 million, up from the previous year’s $467 million. In the same year, exports of ramyeon also surpassed the value of the country’s exports of seaweed products, which had previously remained on top.

“Exports of ramyeon products have enjoyed popularity in overseas countries largely (thanks to) social media,” an official from a local ramyeon company said.

By country, China was the top buyer of Korean ramyeon products, accounting for $174 million during the same 10-month period this year, followed by the US at $170 million and Japan at $49 million.