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Dutch French Fries a hit in South Korea

Import of frozen french fries in South Korea from 2008 -2017 in thousands of tons

Phytosanitary rules prevent the export of fresh potatoes and seed potatoes from the Netherlands to South Korea. Only a few regions in Japan, the United States and Australia are allowed to ship fresh potatoes to South Korea. On the other hand, processed potato products, such as frozen french fries, can be freely imported because they do not fall under these same phytosanitary rules. Dutch companies are very active in this market.

Consumption of French Fries in South Korea is rising rapidly. Over the last ten years, import of frozen french fries has tripled, to a value of €116 million (USD 143 million). Fries are imported because South Korean potatoes are too expensive and are also not very suitable for processing.

In 2017, the United States was, with 78%, the most significant exporter of fries to South Korea, followed by Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands, and China. Prior to 2012, the United States had a market share of 90%, but since then the European and Canadian companies have been gaining ground.

Two Dutch companies have been active in South Korea since 2012. In the period from 2012 to 2017, their market share grew from 0,8% to 2,6%, an increase of 325%. This is still small when compared to the total Dutch export of these potato products: In 2016, the Netherlands exported potato products to the tune of EUR1,6 billion.

American companies have been active in South Korea for many years. This means they have a higher brand awareness among the local consumers. Also, the largest fast food chains, such as Lotteria and McDonalds, currently only use French Fries from the United States.

Although it is difficult to break into the South Korean markets with these relatively unknown Dutch brands, there is a lot of potential in this market.

All is depending on the South Korean consumers becoming more familiar with these Dutch Fries: in terms of quality and price Dutch Fries can stand up to the competition from other countries!

Dutch companies are actively promoting their brands in South Korea. They take part in different trade shows, organize product demonstrations and they do a lot of social networking. The fact that Dutch products are GMO-free is an important marketing point for South Korean consumers.

Where possible, the Dutch embassy in South Korea actively supports companies with different promotional activities.