South Korea’s rice consumption hits another low in 2023

South Korea
Photo credit: Yonhap

South Koreans' consumption of rice hit an all-time low in 2023, but the demand for rice for food items and beverages logged double-digit on-year growth, data showed Friday, Yonhap reports.

The average South Korean consumed 56.4 kilograms of rice last year, down 0.6 percent, or 0.3 kg, from the previous year, according to the data compiled by Statistics Korea.

It is the lowest level since the government began compiling related data in 1962, and the 2023 figure is half the amount reported 30 years ago, when it was 122.1 kg.

Rice is key staple food for Koreans, but its consumption has been on a steady decline since 1980 due mainly to changes in diet and eating habits.

In 1980, the per capita average annual rice consumption stood at 132.4 kg.

Despite the overall decline, rice consumption by food and beverage manufacturers jumped 18.2 percent on-year in 2023 to 817,122 tons.

Rice demand for the alcoholic beverages manufacturing sector, in particular, spiked 61.9 percent on-year to 197,102 tons, the data showed.

The on-year decline in rice consumption has eased recently as demand for home meals has risen amid the COVID-19 pandemic and on the back of various ready-to-eat food items.

Rice consumption fell 3 percent in 2019 from a year earlier but logged a 2.5 percent decline in 2020 before falling 1.4 percent in 2021.

"The government will launch various campaigns to promote rice consumption. We will also extend support for the rice-related industries by helping develop new, good rice-based products," an agriculture ministry official said.

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