| Korea

Korean coffee market value triples to US$10.8bn in a decade

Southeast Asian nation’s coffee market worth 11.7tn won (US$10.8bn) according to the Korean Customs Service (KCS), up from around 3tn won in 2008

Seoul is estimated to have exceeded 18,000 coffee shops | Photo: Critical Mas

The government agency said the figure translates to 26.5 billion cups of coffee being served in 2017, with an average of 512 consumed per capita. Market data from the Seoul-headquartered organisation showed coffee mixes (typically pre-formulated instant coffee, sugar and creamer) most popular among consumers, with more than 13 billion cups consumed. Fresh-roasted accounting for 4.8 billion cups, with canned coffee and coffee-flavoured drinks comprising the rest of the market.

The data reflects the recent Korean coffee boom, with market leader, Starbucks Coffee Korea, operating more than 1,140 stores across 75 cities and reporting 2017 profits of 114.4bn won. Seoul is home to more outlets of the global coffee chain than any other city in the world.

Ediya Co is the Korea’s largest coffee shop chain by store numbers, with an estimated 2,071 outlets nationally. The popularity of coffee shops in the southeast Asian nation is also reflected in data from Statistics Korea, which estimated there were around 88,500 cafes nationwide in 2017 – a 63 per cent increase on 2015.

The massive increase in coffee shops across the Korea has prompted speculation that the market is close to saturation point. The Korea Economic Daily reported in 2017 that while the number of coffee shops in Seoul had exceeded 18,000, just 55.6 per cent of new outlets survive their first year in business.
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