The Citron Tea Exporting Association (CTEA) was established in June 2008 by citron farmers, citron tea processing companies, and exporting companies as a non-government association. It is one of the main exporting items associations that the Korea Agro-Fisheries Trade Corporation (aT) has promoted. There are 34 members working together in the association to guarantee the stabilizing the cultivation of citrons and support overseas promotions.
The amount of citron tea exported in 2006 was USD 30.83m but this figure dropped considerably to USD 25.28m in 2007, and the amount rose to USD 27.14m in 2008. Actually, from 2004 to 2006 the export amount increased on average 24% annually, and citron tea became one of the country’s main exporting agriproducts. This year at the Fancy Food Show held in New York Korean Citron tea won the gold medal as the product considered to have the brightest prospects to become a world enjoyable hot tea.
However, exports are presently localized in the Asian countries of Japan, China (including Hongkong), and Taiwan. Furthermore, there are only six companies which export more than USD 1m of citron tea per year and excessive competition in sales is a big obstacle to exporting citron tea because its price has been dropping.
Agrafood : First of all, could you explain the reason why the CTEA was established and the nature of the organization?
Mr. Song : Our association was established for three reasons: first, to fulfill the government policy-enlarging the export of agriproducts, second, to help each other to share information, and third to supply good quality citron tea to both domestic and overseas customers.
Agrafood : How do you forecast about citron tea exports and the related harvesting amount you need? And could you tell us the association’s export strategy for this year?
Mr. Song : The crop for this year has already been forecasted as exceeding the average amount so there should be no trouble about supplying citron for tea. And the projected export volume is also great because the quality of the citron has been upgraded and, moreover, organic citrons are increasing. The association is going to focus on overseas promotions and cooperation with each member. For overseas promotion we are making a film about all the steps involved in making citron tea from cultivating citrons to packaging for the Chinese and Japanese markets.
Agrafood : What are the obstacles to developing new products and enlarging export markets?
And what are the association’s plans to deal with any problems?
Mr. Song : As citron tea has a strong image as being an excellent tea for winter we should aim to develop new products that customers can enjoy during spells of cold weather and for refreshment when the weather is not cold. And immediate steps should be taken to deal with the excessive competition in sales as this is currently a huge problem. In my opinion the association and the aT should control the price and make the regulations together. To expect the association’s members to exercise a temporary restraint regarding price differences is absolutely not helpful. A long-term solution is needed and this effectively means setting up regulations by the association or the government.
Agrafood : Is there anything you want the government to do to help enlarging citron tea exports?
Mr. Song : Producing costs have increased and many member companies are renovating their facilities and developing new products. So we definitely need the government’s support financially and administratively to be able to keep up with the world’s trend and be a competitive international player on the world tea market.
Park Sung Eun firstname.lastname@example.org
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