Australia prepares to grow Korean wine market

Research from the University of South Australia is set to help the Australian wine industry understand the changing nature of the South Korean wine market as it enters a new era of bilateral trade relations with Australia.

A free-trade agreement between Australia and South Korea (KAFTA) was announced in February and will see the current 15 per cent tariff on Australian wines removed by early 2015.

Titled ‘Understanding and opportunities in the South Korean wine market’, the project is funded by the Australian Grape and Wine Authority and led by Dr You-il Lee, Associate Professor of International Business in the School of Management, University of South Australia and Deputy Director of the Australian Centre for Asian Business.

Assisting Dr Lee as co-investigator on the project is Dr Richard Lee, senior lecturer of marketing at the School of Marketing, University of South Australia.

By value, Australia’s wine exports to South Korea sit behind France, Chile, Italy, USA and Spain, and Australian wines had experienced an almost 30 per cent drop in exports since their peak in 2007.

“Wine generally is perceived as a luxurious product and, while still at an embryonic stage, it has been the fastest growing alcohol segment in South Korea over the past five years.”

Dr Lee said the six-month research project would helpshedlight on thecurrentKoreanwinemarkettrends,thestructure ofthedistributionchannel,and the regulatory environment.

“We will be using a using a combinationof in-depth interviewswith Korean distributors,opinion leadersand relevant governmentagenciesas well assurveyswith Koreanconsumers,” he said.

Keyfindings of theproject, he said, would be made in four areas:

  • Australia’skeycompetitors’(France,Chile,and theUS) marketaccess strategiesin Korea
  • a detailed assessmentofthedistribution channel(both onand off premise markets)
  • non-tariff barriers/regulatoryenvironment on importedwine- price,labelling,licenses, policies,regulations/inspectionson food andsafety
  • insights of Korean consumerstowards Australian wine.


The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade have produced a brochure on the Korea-Australia free trade agreement. Available online.