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S. Korean coffee sales hit new record high of over $10 bn in 2017

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Coffee sales in South Korea hit a fresh record high of over $10 billion last year thanks to robust demand for brewed coffee with high unit costs, government data showed.

A total of 26.5 billion cups of coffee were consumed throughout last year, meaning each Korean drank 512 cups per year, given its population of about 51.77 million.

According to data released by Korea Customs Service on Sunday, coffee sales in Korea reached 11.74 trillion won ($10.99 billion) in 2017, up more than three times from a decade ago. By the number of cups, about 26.5 billion cups of coffee were sold last year, up 30 percent from 20.4 billion in 2007. By type, coffee mix products led the pack with 13.05 billion cups, followed by brewed coffee with 4.8 billion cups, canned coffee with 4.05 billion cups, instant coffee with 3.1 billion cups and instant brewed coffee with 1.6 billion cups.

The rapid growth of the Korean coffee market was led by brewed coffee with a relatively expensive price per cup. In result, sales of brewed coffee soared to 7.85 trillion won from the 900 billion won level a decade ago. The price of a cup of brewed coffee stood at 1,636 won, way higher than canned coffee’s 473 won and instant coffee’s 201 won.

“South Korea is a country with growth potential because per capita consumption of coffee is still far below that of Luxembourg, Finland, Norway, Germany and the United States,” said a source from the coffee industry.

The Korean coffee market, which had been dominated by coffee mix and instant coffee products, went through a change with the appearance of major coffee chains like Starbucks and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf in the 2000s. One recent trend is an increase in the number of small roaster coffee shops which are commonly seen in advanced countries.
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