Insight – Australia’s premium food and beverage impresses in Korea

21 December 2021

Australia’s premium food and beverage received a warm reception at the Seoul Café Show. Of the 32 exporters who attended the event, 25 are now in commercial discussions. The event also provided insights on trends in the Korean food and beverage market.

Australian premium food and beverage in the spotlight

The Seoul Café Show is one of Korea’s largest food and beverage trade shows. This year’s event attracted more than 108,000 visitors and over 3,000 brands from 30 countries.

The organisers selected Australia as this year’s feature country to celebrate 60 years of diplomatic relations between Australia and Korea. The Australian Embassy in the Republic of Korea had a significant presence at the event.

Austrade hosted a stand showcasing Australian suppliers of premium packaged food, beverages, dairy, functional food, nuts and other café-related products. Thirty-two Australian F&B companies, including 29 new-to-market exporters, virtually attended and displayed samples at the event.

Solid results for exporters

Austrade organised over 70 virtual business meetings and introductions for exporters.

‘We’re pleased to say 25 exporters are now in commercial discussions with Korean buyers,’ says Helen Oh, Trade and Investment Commissioner at Austrade Korea.

‘There is more awareness of Australian premium food and beverage. We’ve received several buyer enquiries and are putting them in touch with Australian exporters. We’ve also started market access discussions for new dairy categories.’

Horticulture and premium F&B showcased

Austrade also organised virtual business matching meetings for horticulture and premium F&B exporters in late November. A range of products were showcased, including cherries, table grapes, citrus, packaged food, ready-to-drink premium beverages, dairy, functional food, patisseries and meal kits.

Insights and recommendations for Australian F&B exporters

Discussions and feedback at the events produced the following insights.

  1. Growing interest in plant-based foods. The demand for plant-based (vegan) products such as oat milk, vegan cheese and snacks was stronger than in the past. Korean food and beverage importers and distributors also showed interest in:
    1. UHT milk
    2. healthy and wellbeing snacks
    3. juices
    4. macadamia nuts.
  1. Pricing and packaging are important. Price and trendy packaging were important buying criteria for Korean buyers. However, they commented that Australian export prices were higher than other markets.
  2. Dairy is in demand. Dairy products such as soft cheese and UHT milk are in demand. Note that market access for some dairy products (such as lactose-free dairy products) has not been granted under the Korea–Australia Free Trade Agreement.
  3. Low demand for certain products. Some products did not attract much interest because of Korea’s strong manufacturing capability. These include hot chocolate, coffee beans and muesli cereals.
  4. Price and quality influence horticulture buyers’ decisions. Fruits’ skin appearance and color, sweetness and hardness affect buyers’ perception of quality. Importers and consumers are also looking for new varietals e.g. Sweet Sapphire grapes, Calypso mangoes. Have frank discussions about harvests and product quality with partners before shipment.
  5. Marketing is crucial. Coordinated in-market promotions are crucial to increase sales and differentiate Australia’s position from competitors. Work with Korean partners or PR agencies to market your brand/product using local social media channels and media.
  6. Register your products. New exporters need to register their products and establishments with Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety. Austrade can explain the registration process. You should work with your importer to make the arrangements.

Support from Austrade

Contact Ellen Lee for more information on exporting horticulture and premium F&B to Korea.

Go further, faster with Austrade

Go to Austrade export services to learn the basics, find the right markets and understand market requirements.