Qingdao becomes best-selling imported beer in South Korea

December 8, 2014
Imported beers are getting increasingly popular in Korea. (Newsis)

Imported beers are getting increasingly popular in Korea. (Newsis)

By Park Si-soo

The Chinese beer Qingdao outsold longtime bestseller Budweiser to become the best-selling imported beer in the second half of the year in South Korea, according to Lotte Mart, the nation’s largest retailer, Monday.

Qingdao accounted for 43.8 percent of sales of imported beer at the firm’s outlets between July 1 and Dec. 4, while Budweiser stood at 28.6 percent. Another American beer, Miller, came in third with 21.5 percent, according to Lotte.

The Chinese brewer’s greater market share came as a result of a growing number of Chinese tourists here, officials said.
This was the first time Qingdao has had the best-selling position at a domestic retailer.

It was the third best-selling imported beer, with a 22.9 percent market share, during the first half of last year, with Budweiser at 49.3 percent and Miller second with 27.8 percent.

Yet Qingdao’s sales skyrocketed during the first half of this year, outselling Miller and getting within one percentage point of Budweiser in market share.

“Such a sudden and steep hike can be largely attributable to a rapid increase of inbound Chinese tourists, as well as Chinese people living in Korea,” said Lee Young-eun, a Lotte Mart sales manager. “They have a strong attachment to products imported from their country. I assume that this was one of the main reasons for the sales hike.”

He added Qingdao consumption by Koreans has also increased in the wake of the growing popularity of Chinese dishes such as skewered barbecued lamb.

“Chinese restaurants selling these dishes are flourishing in Seoul’s major entertainment districts,” Lee said.

Nearly 5.8 million Chinese people have visited Korea this year, the biggest tourist group by nation, spending an estimated 14.2 trillion won ($12.7 billion).

The number is expected to continue increasing since Korea is one of the favorite travel destinations among Chinese, according to the World Tourism Cities Federation.

The number of Chinese living in Korea is also on the rise amid brisk bilateral trade and investment.

Many of them live in groups in industrial towns near Seoul, according to data from the Ministry of Justice that handles immigration affairs.

Lotte plans to import other Chinese beers and alcoholic beverages to meet growing domestic demand.

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