The firm first sold a2 MilkTM fresh milk in South Korea in 2018, with local pharmaceutical firm Yuhan as the exclusive distributor. Yuhan also works with other international brands such as Kimberley-Clark and Clorox Corporation.
The two deepened their cooperation last year, with Yuhan selling the a2 infant formula in its New Origin café retail stores, as well as selected premium grocery and online retailers.
In a statement late last month, Geoffrey Babidge, CEO of the a2 milk producer described South Korea as an ‘exciting market opportunity.’
This is due to the high per capita dairy consumption and a fast-growing e-commerce channel.
The infant formula sold in the South Korean market are sourced from New Zealand.
Still very new
Within Asia, The a2 milk Company has identified Australia, New Zealand, and Greater China as the core markets.
In its 2019 financial statement, the firm said these markets represented its ‘most significant growth opportunities’ in the medium term.
South Korea, alongside Vietnam and Hong Kong, are identified as new market opportunities.
As such, the firm has increased its consumer research and market testing in these regions.
It tested a fresh milk presence in South Korea and Singapore, while the focus in Vietnam is milk powder, and infant formula in Hong Kong.
Willing to pay more?
A Euromonitor report on baby food last August pointed out that South Korean consumers’ preference for premium brands meant they were willing to buy those products despite the higher cost.
As such, imported milk formula brands, Aptamilk and Novlac, which had worked with domestic distributors, were able to grow in market share.
However, the sales of milk formula have been dipping due to low birth rate.
According to the report, the sales of liquid milk formula have been declining at a faster rate then powder milk formula.
This is because most toddlers are fed with fresh milk instead of liquid milk formula once they reach one year old.
Overall, domestic dairy giant Maeil Dairies retained its market leadership, due to performing sales for its prepared baby food products.