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Soju makers target Southeast Asian market

All News 09:41 February 05, 2018

SEOUL, Feb. 5 (Yonhap) -- Manufacturers of soju, a Korean distilled beverage made from grain, are making aggressive inroads in Southeast Asia, where sales are increasing at a swift pace, industry officials said Monday.

Lotte Chilsung Beverage Co. launched its exports-exclusive brand Soonhari this month in Thailand and Vietnam with a new strawberry-flavored line. The product has an alcohol content of 12 percent and comes in 360 milliliter bottles. Lotte developed the Soonhari brand for foreign consumers who are not used to the alcoholic flavor peculiar to soju, adding fruit flavors instead. It was first exported in 2015, and sales quadrupled in just two years, the company said.

Hite Jinro Co. said it was opening more branches in the region to bolster sales of its soju products. The second Vietnam branch was added in Ho Chi Minh City after two years of business in the country, and a new outlet is in the works for the Philippines. An "antennae shop" will open in Cambodia to test the market beforehand, the company said.

Hite Jinro's soju sales in Southeast Asia leaped to US$6 million in 2016 from $4.9 million in 2015. They jumped further to $8.8 million last year, a growth of 46.7 percent from the previous year.

"The consumer recognition of soju is very high in Southeast Asia because of the continuing (Korean Wave) popularity from K-dramas and K-pop," an industry official said. "The region is emerging as a source of new profits for the industry."

Strawberry-flavored Soonhari soju is shown in this file photo from Lotte Chilsung Beverage Co. (Yonhap)


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