The Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) of the US Department of Agriculture’s Global Agricultural Information Network report stated that rice production in South Korea is forecast to decline in the marketing year 2023-24 by nearly 3% to 3.6 million tonnes on reduced acreage. This is in response to government incentives to switch to other grains.
“Due to continuously decreasing per capita rice consumption, as well as declining population, the Korean government has introduced incentives for farmers to switch from rice to other crops, including soybean and wheat,” the FAS said. “Additionally, the (government) has been encouraging the production of a new rice variety suitable for use in flour (as a substitute for wheat) to increase the self-sufficiency rate of food grains.”
From the policy instated, wheat production is expected to benefit and reach a 40-year high of 46,000 tonnes this year, however, it would still be short of the government’s goal of 60,000 tonnes. Wheat consumption is seen to hold steady at 4.1 million tonnes, and wheat imports are also expected to remain at 4.5 million tonnes from the previous year.
According to the FAS, the increase in wheat demand in recent years in South Korea is due to “a growing preference for Western-style snacks and treats that can be consumed quickly on the go, such as bread and pastries, rather than traditional Korean rice-based meals.”
The report also mentioned that South Korea is sourcing its wheat from a more diverse set of suppliers. South Korea’s market share of Eastern European and Russian feed wheat in 2022-23 dropped to 11% from 85% in the previous year. The country increased its intake from Australia from 15% to 69%.