Makgeolli, also known as Korean rice wine or Korean rice beer, is a milky white-colored alcoholic beverage. The beverage normally made with rice contains about six to eight percent alcohol. Some brands are flavored with corn, chestnuts, and apples. The milky beverage was favored by middle-aged and older drinkers aged more than 40, but new makgeolli products, carbonated or flavored with fruits, have been produced to attract young consumers.
According to data released by the Korean Culture and Information Service (KOCIS) under the culture ministry, Makgeolli exports reached $15.7 million in 2021, up 27.7 percent from a year ago. Exports in the first quarter of 2022 were about $4.24 million, up 11 percent on-year. Major Makgeolli importers were Japan, the United States, and China.
Jipyeong Brewery said in a statement on May 11 that the Makgeolli factory in Cheonan is capable of producing up to 30,000 bottles per hour. The company has increased the production capacity by five times compared to the conventional one using a large fermentation tank. About 46,000 kiloliters of Makgeolli can be produced every year. "Starting in 2023, the factory will serve as a global base to push for overseas exports," an unnamed Jipyeong Brewery official was quoted as saying.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, online sales of Korean rice beer have significantly increased among South Korean consumers. Data released by Gmarket, a major online shopping mall operated by eBay Korea, showed that sales of Makgeolli in the first half of 2020 increased by 384 percent compared to the same period in 2019. Gmarket said customers in their 50s and 60s were the main consumer group who bought Makgeolli via its online stores.
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