Koreans Prefer Coffee over Any Other Drinks

A recent national health & nutrition survey data showed Koreans’ strong attachment to coffee has challenged rice, which has been the staple food in Korea for centuries, as the main choice for every meal of the day. However, rice still tops the list regarding the frequency of food intake with 17.8 times a week.

The Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a survey of 3,805 Korean adults aged 19 to 64 years about the most frequently consumed food per week. Among the 112 food items, coffee was well up in the frequency of food intake list with 12.3 times per week. That translates into each survey participant drinking coffee 1.8 times per week. This obviously represents a sea change in Koreans’ dietary habits on the past 120 years since coffee made its debut on the Korean peninsula in 1895.

Coffee

The latest Korea Customs Service (KCS) data show that the import of coffee beans is over 100,000 tons a year, which can be translated into 300 cups of coffee (10g of coffee) per adult Korean. According the industry’s data, Koreans consumed 24.2 billion cups of coffee collectively in 2013. This means that every Korean drinks 484 cups over the course of a year and 1.3 cups per day on the average per head.

Korea has a huge and steadily growing coffee market valued at over 4.5 trillion KRW, marking a triple growth from six years ago. In addition, the amount spent annually on coffee by Korean adults reached KRW 6.1 trillion, making the coffee market size come close to that of the software industry (KRW 6.5 trillion) or the outdoor industry (KRW 6.9 trillion) in Korea.

Moreover, Koreans’ appetite for coffee has been changing as their incomes rise. Recent data show that more and more Korean consumers prefer brewed coffee over instant. Shares of individually packaged coffee mix, which contains coffee powder, creamer and sugar for a single serving, and instant coffee accounted for 58 percent and 15 percent, respectively in 2009. However, the shares decreased to 36 percent and 11 percent, respectively in 2012.

On the other hand, shares of brewed coffee or espressobased drinks marked a nearly triple growth from 4.8 percent in 2009 to 13.8 percent in 2012, largely thanks to a boom in coffee chain stores and local roasting houses.

 
 
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