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The Colorful Seduction of Korean Flowers

Ten Domestic Companies to Participate in 2011 International Flower Expo Tokyo
Active Export Consultations
and Promotional Activities Geared
to Seek Foreign Markets

 

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The IFEX 2011 International Flower Expo will be held for three days from October 13 to 15 at the Makuharimese exhibition center in Chiba, Japan. As the biggest flower expo in the Asian region, IFEX will mark its eighth anniversary this year. Ten Korean flower-exporting companies will participate in the expo and carry out an aggressive marketing campaign. Flagship flowers they will market include rose, lily, chrysanthemum, occidental orchid, calla, and cactus. Let’s take a look at the colorful world of Korean flowers.

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Thanks to the high quality, brilliant cultivation techniques, and stable supply of Korean flowers, the export of Korean flowers has been on the rise every year. Indeed, exports, which posted a meager USD$ 6.4 million in 1995, broke the USD$ 0.1 billion mark last year, recording a 16-fold increase in just 15 years. Among Korean flowers, the exports of the Korean rose, lily, and chrysanthemum are continuously increasing especially to Japan, where domestic flower production has been decreasing. As of 2010, 20.9 percent of the roses that Japan imported and as much as 95.2 percent of lilies were coming from Korea. Korean occidental orchids (or cymbidium) are getting a favorable response in China, while grafted cactuses are being received well in some European countries including the Netherlands.

 

Outstanding Cultivation Techniques Result in Higher-Class Products

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These accomplishments have resulted from the joint efforts of the Korean government and the Korean flower farmers to grow Korean flower varieties of the best quality. As part of the efforts, the government formed a leading flower exporters’ group that manages the entire export process - from flower production to export - systematically in order to increase the income of Korean flower farms. The formation of this group shows how hard the Korean government is trying to match the size of flower producers and exporters, as well as to systematize the process. The government also set the standards for each flower, issued detailed manuals, and established a quality management system. In addition, it gives consulting on flower cultivation to the farms and is keen on giving education on advanced technology.

 

Popularity of Korean Native Cultivars such as Baekma and Magic Rose

What’s more, the government has been pouring its energy into developing superior flower varieties so as to match the specifics of export markets. The fruit of one of these endeavors is “Baekma,” a prestigious domestic chrysanthemum variety. The Rural Development Administration (RDA) bred it in 2004 and started dissemination to private flower companies in 2006. Baekma is a great flower with voluptuous petals and, for cut flowers, a long lifespan. Even Japan, which is considered to be the country of chrysanthemums, gives the Korean flower two thumbs up. Starting in 2007, 50,000 of Baekma flowers were exported in a trial export. Two years later, the native Korean cultivar earned USD$ 2 million through full-scale exports. This was 25 percent of the total Korean chrysanthemums exports.
As for roses, Korea’s spray-cultivar roses such as Morning Shine, Charity, and Yellow King are very popular among Japanese consumers as all these varieties live long after they are cut and have the pastel toned colors favored by Japanese. Along with these spray types, standard type Pearl Red, with its long peduncle, great petal shape, and numerous petals is also getting a favorable response from Japanese consumers. Magic Rose, which changes its colors according to the light and temperature, is also enjoying huge popularity in the Japanese market. This is despite costing 4~5 times more than ordinary roses.

 

Aggressive Overseas Marketing Strategy

Aggressive overseas marketing strategies are being implemented as well. Last year, the Korea Agro-Fisheries Trade Corporation (aT) held a Korean flower exhibition and seminar session for overseas buyers in two major Japanese markets - Tokyo and Osaka. These aT efforts provide an important opportunity to promote the excellence of Korean flowers and have already brought some tangible results as seen in increased exports. Along with Japan, the aT is diversifying the export markets by carrying out promotional activities in China, Russia, and the Netherlands.


 

BEST 5 Flowers that are Popular Abroad

Rose

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Korean roses have been eating away a market share on the Japanese market, and their exports are expected to increase further. As seen in the list of items exported by Daedong Nonghyup in Gimhae, the most popular Korean roses include Pinky, Yellow King, and Peaceful. Currently, a small quantity of Korean roses is being exported to Russia, where people prefer big glamorous roses of reddish hues.

Lily
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As for the lily, the Korean one is so popular in Japan that a whopping 93 percent of the flower imports are from Korea. Last year, exports of Korean lilies reached USD$ 27.85 million, making the flowers the second most popular item in Korean flower exports. In the past, Dutch lilies dominated the Japanese lily market. But with the increasing transportation and distribution costs from the European continent to Japan, Korea’s high-quality lilies obtained a chance and quickly replaced their Dutch competitors in the market.


Chrysanthemum

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Big Baekma is the Korean chrysanthemum that captivates consumers in Japan - the Kingdom of Chrysanthemums. This Korean cultivar is treated as the best of the best for several reasons. It has an elegant semicircle shape with rolled up snow-white petals. Since each flower has as many as 300 petals, in the full bloom it often takes on quite picturesque shapes such as shiningly-white, freshly cooked rice. In addition, the flower has a long lifespan and blooms 2~3 times longer than ordinary chrysanthemums.


Cymbidium

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The cymbidium is the most favored winter flower of Chinese people. The Chinese believe that if, on New Year’s Day, they get a gift of a yellow cymbidium flowerpot, which symbolizes gold, they will be lucky for the entire year. So, the flowerpot is viewed as the best gift on the holiday. In China, the Korean cymbidium is appreciated for its big flowers and deep colors. Exports of this flower hit a record high at USD$ 260,000 in 2008. With a cymbidium research center established in the same year, it is expected that activities aimed at developing and disseminating Korean flower cultivars will lead to even better results.


Grafted Cactus
Grafted cactus is made by grafting little cactuses with red, yellow, or other colors onto a main cactus. Many people consider it luxurious due to such a great variety of colors. The Korean grafted cactus has even more beautiful and vivid colors than those produced in other countries, and for this reason it came to dominate the world market, taking an 80 percent share. The grafting dexterity of Koreans may have made an important contribution to this achievement.

Plus Information

Whimori
A Co-Brand Representing Agriproducts in Korea’s Exports

Whimori is a co-brand of Korea’s exported agriproducts. The word “whimori” stands for the rhythm that in Korean classical music (Pansori) expresses a climax, or some urgent and busy moments. Taking this word for the name of a brand involves a wish of the Korean agricultural industry to make inroads in the world markets with Korean agriproducts of a high-end brand name (Climax of Quality). The brand also contains the English meaning, “Whistle in the Morning,” which signifies the freshness of Korean agriproducts.
Since Whimori is the agriproduct brand representing Korea, only high-quality products made by enterprises excelling in management acumen, with cutting-edge sorting facilities, and considerable exporting experience are allowed to use the brand name. Once labeled as “Whimori,” agriproduct tracing management, along with safety and grade inspections are conducted in order to secure the safety of the Korean farm produce.
Among Korean cut flowers exported abroad, spray-type roses of Daedong Nonghyup and Rosepia, and spray-type chrysanthemums, which are produced by Gumi Infrastructure Corporation, are selling under the brand name “Whimori.”

Park Sung Eun  parkse@agrinet.co.kr

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