South Korea's phytosanitary regulations stipulate that fresh potatoes and potato seeds cannot be shipped to South Korea from the Netherlands. Only a few regions in Japan, the USA and Australia are allowed to ship fresh potatoes to South Korea. However, processed potatoes, such as chips, can be freely imported as they are not subject to the same phytosanitary regulations. Dutch companies took advantage of the situation.
Chips are one of the fastest growing foods in South Korea.
Over the past ten years, imports of potato chips to South Korea have almost tripled, rising to 116 million euros. Chips are imported because South Korea's own potatoes are too expensive to produce.
In 2017, the US was the largest exporter of potato chips to South Korea with a market share of 78%. The USA is followed by Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands and China. Until 2012, the US had a 90% share, but since then European and Canadian companies have steadily increased their shipments.
For example, two Dutch potato chip companies are particularly active in South Korea. From 2012 to 2017, their market share increased from 0,8% to 2,6%, an increase of 325%. But this is very small compared to the total Dutch export of potato chips.
In 2016, the Netherlands became one of the world's most significant exporters of these products, worth 1,6 billion euros. Therefore, Dutch companies believe that they have huge potential in the South Korean market and are ready to compete with American suppliers, despite the fact that the largest fast food chains such as Lotteria and McDonalds use only American chips. In addition to their products, the Dutch are ready to deliver more affordable prices, excellent quality and intensive marketing.
The fact that Dutch products do not contain GMOs is an important marketing moment for South Korean consumers who are very concerned about food safety. (A source: (www.freshplaza.com).