Imports of sparkling wine, which is especially popular among young Korean women, rose nearly 20 percent in January-July, while wine imports overall are on track to surpass those of whiskey for the first time this year, customs data shows.
"There was pent up demand for change in flavour and alcohol content among South Korean drinkers, especially among females as more and more of them join the workforce," said Lee Kyung-ju, an analyst at Korea Investment and Securities.
In March, Lotte Chilsung Beverages launched a citron-flavoured soju called Soonhari, which means soft, with 14 percent alcohol, lower than the usual 21 percent. The company says it sold 40 million bottles in the first 100 days.
Rival Muhak followed in May with a series of low-alcohol fruity soju products whose name translates to 'Good Day'. Hite Jinro, the country's biggest maker of alcoholic beverages, joined the trend in June with a grapefruit flavoured soju containing 13 percent alcohol.
Fruity products helped lift overall soju sales by 7.8 percent this summer at E-Mart, South Korea's largest hypermarket operator, and accounted for 21 percent of all soju sales last month at the GS Group's GS25 convenience store chain, the companies said.
The share of female drinkers in their 20s who drink more than once a month rose by 10.5 percent between 2005 and 2014, hitting 62.3 percent, government data showed.


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