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Jeju Citrus to the British Market

Jeju Citrus to the British Market


First Export to Britain

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From this February, British consumers can try Korean Jeju citrus. The Export Promotion Research Organization for Korean Citrus accomplished the laudable feat of exporting 20 tons of its citrus to Britain on December 22, 2009, for the first time in history of Korean citrus export. 

The citrus organization had been concentrating on building the export infrastructure to pioneer entry into the British market since 2008 when its R&D business was at an early stage. As part of its efforts to build up the required infrastructure, the organization worked to meet the British quarantine requirements, consult with local importing companies, and make boxes for export. These efforts resulted in sending 100kg of sample citrus, which satisfied the plant conditions required by the European Union, to Fesa, a big fruit-importing company in Britain. Fesa duly evaluated the quality of the sample citrus high and massive export ensued. Fesa, one of the UK’s four great companies specializing in fruit-import, proposed that it will guarantee the minimum price of USD$ 0.8/kg as long as it is supplied continuously with Jeju citrus. And if this first shipment can arrive on land safe and sound meeting the international standards of perishable ratio, then the future export volume of Jeju citrus to Britain is expected to increase to more than 5,000 tons a year.  

Mr. Yu Young-Bong, Vice Director of the citrus organization, said: “Fesa offered a rock-bottom price for our citrus this time, but if we can secure sufficient volume to supply the British company, we will not only be given the increased price, we also play important role of distributing the volume to individual farmers.”

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High Quality and Possible Increase in Export Volume

Jeju citrus has been exporting to some twelve countries amongst these being Canada, Russia, Singapore, and Taiwan. But there have been some problems not the least of which is that there have been no trade specialists fully in charge of export, and the citrus-cultivating farmers were poorly organized and accordingly could not secure sufficient volume to export. Therefore, the export volume has remained meager equivalent only annually so far to USD$ 1.5m. The entry into the British market is expected then to serve as a momentum to solve these problems and expand export in the future. 

The exported fruit should arrive in Britain with the perishable ratio of rotten fruit to unscathed fruit remaining at below 5% at a reefer. Citrus is prone to rot and thus the perishable ratio is considered a very important factor in international trading. Considering the shipborne time and how long it will take for actual sale into accounts, the citrus organization estimated the period of low-temperature storage to be fifty days. It then tested the low-temperature storage and gleaned relevant data from it. So far, the test result is good showing the ratio of 1.7% for 30-days storage.

The prospects of citrus export to Britain are indeed rosy. The UK is a country that imports some 400,000 tons of oranges and citrus fruits a year and consumes around 54,000 tons of oranges between January and March. Of note is the fact that recently the orange-preferred consumption pattern of the British has been shifting towards a citrus-preferred one. Given this trend Korean citrus is likely to encroach successfully into the UK market. Surprisingly and conveniently, citrus classified as of mediocre quality in Korea receives a premium rating in the UK. All this considered, citrus export to Britain is projected to grow a maximum of 15,000 tons in the future. 

Key Tasks: Organizing Farmers and Preventing Plant Diseases and Pests

At this point, however, there are some pressing tasks that need to be tackled. These include organizing citrus-producing farmers efficiently to secure the needed export volume and protecting citrus plants from harmful insects and plant diseases like infamous canker. To this end, the citrus organization is finding ways to link many citrus producers with export. As for the pest and disease issues, it has already built up an effective control system.

Mr. Yu concluded: “We have set up the basic infrastructure needed to export our citrus and attained the global GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) certification which is required by European countries. Henceforth, we aim to consolidate our initial presence in the British market and, building on this success, to make inroads into other countries in northern Europe. We have also earmarked entry into the Spanish market too in the near future.”

Inquiries  Yu Young-bong             

Tel  +82-64-754-3356             

Fax  +82-64-702-2460             

E-mail  ybryu@jejunu.ac.kr

Park Sung Eun  parkse@agrinet.co.kr

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