Korea Is the Top Market for U.S. Oranges

Ernie Neff Trade


Korea is the United States’ top export market for oranges and the third largest market for lemons and grapefruit, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA/FAS) recently reported. Oranges, lemons and grapefruit account for 99 percent of the country’s total citrus imports.

More information from USDA/FAS about the Korean market follows:

Citrus imports by Korea dropped in 2019 due to unfavorable weather conditions in citrus-exporting countries.

Unshiu accounts for more than 80 percent of Korean citrus production. Other Korean citrus breeds include Hallabong and Cheon Hye Hyang.

Oranges dominate the market, accounting for 77 percent of citrus imports. Lemons remain popular in beverages. Grapefruit were trendy, but demand has been dropping.

Korea’s fruit market is very competitive. New varieties of imported fruit continue to be introduced, and a diverse assortment of domestic fruit is released every season.

Imported oranges have been losing market share to other fruit and citrus varieties. For example, local premium citrus varieties like Hallabong and Cheon Hye Hyang have become popular. The local citrus varieties have also become more affordable, increasing demand. In 2019, domestic citrus sales increased by 35 percent compared to the previous year. Demand for imported oranges has decreased as a result.

Household lemon consumption has been increasing as more consumers have become aware of the diverse use of lemons. Lemons are now being used for lemon juice, lemon detox water or as an ingredient for cooking. Sunkist has increased consumer awareness through steady marketing activities. Growing demand for lemons led to imports increasing 5 percent by volume in 2019 compared to the previous year.

There is a strong trend in Korea of consumers choosing less processed food and beverages over products with additives, such as colors or sugar. The COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to demand for healthier food choices. Freshly squeezed juice has been growing in popularity for its natural ingredients and nutritional benefits. According to Market Kurly, an online premium retailer, sales of freshly squeezed juice increased by 57 percent between January and July 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.

See the full USDA/FAS report on Korea here.

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service

Share this Post