Koreas Market for Organics
Although the current market for organic products in Korea is small, it has grown rapidly over the last 10 years, and further expansion is expected. Domestic organic acreage reflects that growth, rising 1,740 percent from 617 hectares (1,525 acres) in 1989, to 10,718 hectares (26,475 acres) in 1998. Over the same period, the number of organic farms grew 870 percent from 1,500 to 13,056 farms. Locally-produced organic food was valued at $59 million in 1998, and currently, fresh fruits and vegetables account for over 60 percent of the total domestic organic market. Baby food is another popular item which local manufacturers expect will rise in popularity with the anticipated millennium baby boom. Consumers now pay 30 percent more for organic rice and 25 percent more for organic produce. According to a recent survey, 30 percent of consumers indicated a willingness to pay 50 percent more for organic than conventional products.
Imports of organic ingredients were valued at about $2 million last year. About half came from Europe. Given increased consumer awareness and interest, and recent growth in disposable income, the market holds promise for future imports. Best prospects for U.S. exporters include organic ingredients and consumer-ready processed foods. Exporters should contact the Agricultural Trade Office in Seoul ( for information on Koreas organic regulations as they apply to imports.
Organic Standard Among USDAs Priorities for 2000
On January 10, Secretary Glickman reviewed USDAs accomplishments for 1999, and outlined his three priorities for 2000. To address the priority of helping farmers and rural America prosper, Glickman said he "will make significant additional investments in research and rural economic development, aggressively seek further opening of global markets, implement mandatory price reporting to help ensure fair competition for small farmers and ranchers, and propose a national organic program." The other two priorities for 2000 are to support farmers and ranchers by "providing a stronger and broader safety net and enhanced conservation programs," and to make progress on civil rights issues at USDA. Secretary Glickman later announced plans for $180 million in new USDA investments in rural America, focused on the needs of small-and medium-sized producers and detailed a $500,000 program to help small farmers and ranchers find better ways to market and export their products.
(For further information, contact Janise Zygmont at 202-720-1176.)