The traditional Korean rice wine makgeolli is establishing a strong presence at supermarkets and convenience stores in Japan. CJ Cheiljedang said its own brand of canned makgeolli will add further momentum to the market as it has gone on sale in 10 of 11 Japanese convenience store chains and major shopping outlets starting Wednesday.
The company said it has made arrangements for its product to be available in 25,000 out of 43,000 convenience stores across Japan, accounting for 60 percent of the stores, and 70 percent of the supermarkets, in the country.
"This is the highest penetration rate for a Korean beverage or food brand sold in Japan," said a CJ Cheiljedang employee. "Even Sapporo Breweries, which is handling sales of the product in Japan, expressed surprise at the demand."
Last year, Lotte Liquor teamed up with Seoul Takju, Korea's No. 1 makgeolli maker, to produce Seoul Makgeolli and exported more than W20 billion (US$1=W,1,42) worth of the product to Japan. Korean Wave star Jang Keun-suk modeled for the product to drive sales, while Japanese liquor company Suntory joined hands with Lotte Liquor to sell the makgeolli.
Jinro Makgeolli also saw its exports of the rice wine surpass 700,000 boxes in 2010, while it sold 1.2 million boxes last year, up more than 70 percent.
Makgeolli exports to Japan in 2011 totaled $48.42 million, up 210.7 percent from 2010, and shipments this year are expected to reach W70 billion.