Aquaculture for all

South-Korea to scale up seaweed sector

Sustainability Consumer Economics +6 more

The demand for South Korean edible seaweeds has soared, with the supply struggling to meet demand, and prices suffering inflation in response.

South Korean gimbap
Gimbap, a way of preparing the seaweed, is increasingly popular in the US

© Seonkyoung Longest

As the exports of South Korean gim – a variety of dried edible seaweeds – has dramatically increased alongside significant consumption within the country itself, the seaweed sector has been struggling to meet the booming demands. As a result, the price of the culinary staple has undergone rapid inflation, rising almost 30 percent in one year to the equivalent of $0.95 per ten sheets.

The rising international popularity of gim has been attributed by some to its rising presence in popular media. Exports, which are one of the key reasons for the recent supply struggles and price inflation, reached a total of 35,446 tonnes as of last year - an increase of 42 percent since 2020.

Two of the major emerging markets for South Korean gim are the United States and Thailand, where gimbap – a way of preparing the seaweed – are becoming increasingly popular and available.

In order to stabilise the recent price inflation of gim, the South Korean government has announced plans to increase domestic seaweed production by 3 percent. According to their plans, this will be achieved by the development of additional seaweed farming sites totalling 2,700 hectares.

However, whether or not this expansion would be adequate to meet the still-growing demand for gim remains to be seen.

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