U.S. becomes the biggest importer of Korean seaweed

March 11, 2014

43% increase recorded over three years to surpass Japan

Korean seaweed have become very popular in the United States. (Korea Times file)

Korean seaweed has become very popular in the United States. (Korea Times file)

By The Korea Times Los Angeles staff

The U.S. has become the biggest importer of Korean seaweed.

Actual exports of Korean seaweed exceeded $250 million for the first time last year, according to Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corp. (aT).

With more than $67 million of the total, U.S. imports increased by 31 percent since last year, surpassing Japan, which spent $58 million.

The presence of Korean seaweed in the U.S. has seen a quick rise, with $23 million in imports in 2010 to $38 million in 2011 and $51 million in 2012, which represents a 43 percent increase over three years.

Dry seaweed made up most of the exports until 2010, when a trend in health foods catapulted the popularity of seasoned seaweed, which is rich in nutrition and low in calories, said aT officials based in Los Angeles.

Quality seaweed from mid-sized Korean companies is also increasingly packaged as store-brand items at big retail stores like Costco or Trader Joe’s.

According to Meokbo Kim President Choi Ki-jong, U.S. stores market the product as a beer snack and as a complement to noodles, soups and salads. Seaweed snacks flavored with teriyaki sauce or even incorporated with almonds are steadily gaining attention.

Lee Won-ki, the branch manager of LA aT, said it is possible that U.S. imports of Korean seaweed will hit $100 million by 2017 as more and more Americans seek low-fat, low-sodium foods.

One Comment

  1. fiona

    April 21, 2016 at 9:37 PM

    Dear Sir/Madam,

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