Almond products have emerged as Korea’s flagship product. Almond products, which had not been exported to Japan and only five years ago, are becoming so popular that local retailers have set up displays in local retail stores last year. Almond products are also popular in Myeong-dong, Seoul. There are many stores that don’t have dedicated stands.
Surprisingly, Korea is an almond importer. Naturally, almonds from processed almonds are also imported from California. Jilin Yang, Mergerborn, and Nara Trade are the representative companies selling honey flavored products such as wasabi, strawberries, chili, caramel, roasted chicken, and yogurt.
100g almonds are sold in the early 2000s, while processed products using the same amount of almonds are sold at more than three times the price.
This is not to say that there are no companies selling competitive products in major exporters, Japan and China. Exports range from the United States, the almond powerhouse, to European Union countries, including France, to China and Thailand, all of whom compete on low-cost products.
However, the reality is that it is hard to find a place that has as much quality and variety as Korean products. The fact that Korea’s almond products have been pushed out of the Chinese market after the crisis has not been able to produce such competitive products is a clear illustration. In addition to the Korean wave, which has been in place for the past two decades, quality competitiveness that has been established in the domestic market supports the success of Korean products.
In particular, the growth of Korean almond products in Japan is noteworthy. Since the first entry in Jilin in 2015, late-runners such as Mergerborn joined the market, exceeding 50% market share this year, significantly ahead of US, European, Chinese and Thai products. This is surprising given that there was no export to Japan until 2014.
The high average cost per product is encouraging. According to the Japanese Treasury Department’s trade statistics, the average unit price (based on 1kg) as of September was the highest for US products at 1518 yen, followed by Korean products at 1415 yen. The average EU product is 1315 yen, Thailand 1109 yen and China 751 yen. This means that many consumers are willing to buy Korean products even if they pay more.
A Mergerbone official who is struggling in the almond processing market in Japan said, “Unlike a few years ago, I am very interested in Korean almond products as it is more popular to use Korean for product packaging.” “We will be able to handle the production by expanding our factories at large sites in Ulsan in the saturation and long term.”
Meanwhile, China’s consumption of Korean almond products is increasing rapidly. The interest in health is increasing and the taste of Chinese, who are sweeping US almonds, is leading to the consumption of processed products of various flavors. An industry official said, “Exports have shrunk to the extent that containers that used to go out two months a month at a time after the crisis, will go out one year a year.”