Boosted online sale of seafood in South Korea

Katrina Poulsen

Due to the pandemic, South Korea has rapidly as one of the most digital nations in the world increased their sales of seafood online shows data.

A lot of the salmon sold in South Korea is Norwegian Atlantic salmon. It takes up 99% of the fresh Atlantic salmon market in South Korea and is a wanted good in the country, and customers have converted their supermarket shopping to e-commerce instead.

The gigantic discount retail store Homeplus increased sales of seafood 180% in February 2020 compared to February 2019, and like versa did sales of seafood at soared to 188.1% in Feb 2020 compared to Feb 2019.

“We have seen that the South Koreans have been fast to adapt buying seafood online during February and March,” says Gunvar L. Wie, director of Norwegian Seafood Council in Japan and South Korea.

The Scottish Salmon Producer Organisation says South Korea is not a big market for Scottish salmon processors, but has in general experienced in Asia, that citizens in this region are a lot better at buying fresh food online, than in Europe and in the US.

“There has been an appetite for fresh protein in the region. Asia has been doing a lot better at taking on online shopping for seafood,” says Nathan Tyler, Head of Digital and Communications at Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation.

Nathan Tyler explains that the overall view on the region is, that the elder segment buy more fresh seafood online and the younger buy more processed seafood.

The home consumption of salmon has grown and in the first months of 2020, the Norwegian Seafood Council has seen a growth in both frozen but also fresh salmon online. The total amount of food and beverages online sales in South Korea has in January 2020 increased with 19,1%, shows Statistics Korea.

“The demand for Norwegian salmon to consume at home has risen and during the first months of 2020, we have seen an extreme demand on e-commerce of fresh salmon products in South Korea,” says Gunvar L. Wie.

Concern for logistics
Gunvar L. Wie tells that the sales of fresh salmon online has increased with 103 % since last year. But it is still frozen seafood is leading. The Korean customers have lately shown concern if the logistics would challenge the import of salmon and cause less product availability.

“An article reported that customers are concerned about the logistic challenges the pandemic is causing, and here customers mentioned salmon as a certain concern,” says Gunvar L. Wie.

E-commerce players state growth by over 100
Online sales have been a part of the South Korean society for a while. Smartphone users in the country have in January 2020 outgrown the number of capita old enough to use a mobile phone states South Korean Ministry of Science and ICT, as 51,22 million of 51,26 million citizens in South Korea use a smartphone daily.

This behaviour has benefited several e-commerce companies in the country. In 2019 the three biggest e-commerce players in South Korea were Coupang, G Market, and 11 street who combined saw a 37.4% increase in sales of food compared to the 2018 fiscal year.

G Market recorded a 50% increase in sales of fresh food and processed food, respectively, from Feb 11 to Mar 12 compared to the same period of last year, reported Wikileak News.

The Homeplus Warehouse store The Club saw a 328 % the increase in sales of fresh food from Feb 10 to Mar 10 compared to the same period of last year, reported Cstimes.

Grown 588% in 10 years
The South Korean salmon market has during the last ten years experienced a boost beyond imagination and has fore Norway become one of the most important markets. From earlier on sharing the salmon exports with UK and Chile Norway now supplies the entire region with salmon.

Over ten years the sale of salmon to South Korea has grown with 588 % in value according to the Norwegian Seafood Council.

The worth of salmon has increased by 21% during the first months of 2020, and 2% when it comes to volume, as a lot of sales through HORECA has been cancelled due to the pandemic.

“This is mainly due to strong growth in the takeaway segment and increased sales in the grocery trade. In China, the reduction was 17 per cent compared with the same week last year. Exports to South Korea increased by 53 per cent, says Paul T. Aandahl in an article by the Norwegian Seafood Council.

A report from The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, Monday informed that the share of e-commerce channel sales in February has increased with almost 10% from last year in February. This is not only applied to food consume.



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