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Winter Strawberry Maehyang Opens the Hearts of Overseas Consumers

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The big distributors of Singapore (Giant, NTUC) and Hong Kong (ParknShop, JUSCO) started promoting the Korean winter strawberry to local consumers in December. The variety of Korean winter strawberry exported to the Southeast Asian market is called Maehyang.


What’s the Maehyang Strawberry?

Harvest Season
from November to April of the following year

Main Producing Places
Jinju, Hapcheon

Advantages
High sugar content (12~14°Bx), Sweet fragrance, Firm texture

Maehyang is generally harvested from November to April of the following year. The advantages of this variety include a high sugar content (12~14°Bx) and sweet fragrance. What’s more, on account of its firm texture, Maehyang is crispy and can be stored for a long time.

The Highest Share among Imported Strawberries in Hong Kong and Singapore

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Although there is a slight difference according to the market, strawberries from Korea, Japan, and the US come to Singapore and Hong Kong at around the same time - from December to May of the following year. Despite the strong competition, the Korean strawberry Maehyang was able to beat its rivals this time and now accounts for over 60 percent of the imported strawberry market in Singapore and Hong Kong. This means that the Korean strawberry is receiving a better response from the local consumers thanks to its excellent taste, quality, and competitive price. That is why big supermarkets in the two markets are said to be very busy securing the necessary supply of Maehyang before the harvesting season starts.

Efforts to Secure Food Safety and Improve Package Design

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The consumers of Singapore and Hong Kong who have high income-levels, and are interested in imported foods, are very sensitive to food safety. Package design is also an important factor in purchasing decisions. To increase consumer satisfaction, Maehyang is making a big effort to ensure food safety and improve the package design. The farms that grow Maehyang receive regular inspections of the production process and product quality. Pesticide residue tests are also routinely conducted. As more Maehyang strawberries are cultivated pesticide-free, the farms spur on the production of organic Maehyang. Packages for export come in medium and large sizes of 250g and 2L, 3L, and DX of 330g.

First Priority: Stable Supply of Strawberries for Export

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One of the woes that buyers struggle with is securing the supply. They are often left in a difficult situation when the demand is high but the supply is insufficient. To cope with this problem, Korean strawberry farms (Korea Strawberry Export Growers Association, SEGA) and Korean strawberry exporters (Korea Strawberry Export Association, SEA) decided to join their efforts for the common goal of ensuring a stable supply of strawberries for export. They carry out various initiatives such as upward equalization of quality, overseas marketing, and exploitation of new markets. Thanks to these activities, the Korean strawberry is constantly evolving as a product for export.


Mini Interview
Calvin Oh    President of SEA/CEO of Elim Trading Co., Ltd.

 

We Will Sweep the Strawberry Markets in Southeast Asia by Providing a Stable Supply and Enhancing Quality

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Maehyang is so popular in Singapore and Hong Kong. What accounts for this success?
Local consumers are ready to open their wallets to get the delicious and fragrant strawberry. Maehyang is fiercely competing with the Japanese and American strawberries in the Singapore and Hong Kong markets. The Japanese strawberry is more expensive than other strawberries and the supply is not large enough. The strawberry from the US cannot satisfy local consumers in terms of taste and fragrance. In contrast, Maehyang is similar to American strawberries in price but has a high sugar content and good appearance, so the consumers have a strong sense of satisfaction about Maehyang.

Any particular story related to strawberry export that you’d like to share with us?
Do you think that only haute couture brands such as PRADA and Louis Vuitton can be imitated? Fake Korean strawberries are also sold in some night markets of Hong Kong. It may look like the Korean strawberry because the packages are marked with hangeul (Korean alphabet) and taegeuk (yin-yang symbol). But, in fact, they are made in China and differ from the original Korean strawberry in both taste and quality. Some local consumers buy the fake product but many have realized how poor it is at imitating Maehyang. The sales of the fake Korean strawberry have decreased and the number of consumers who appreciate the true value of the Korean strawberry is steadily increasing.


Could you talk about your future plans for exporting the Korean strawberry?
Some of the strawberry fields have been damaged by natural disasters such as typhoons. However, this will make no difference in providing a stable supply of Maehyang. As more farmers and exporters join the SEA and SEGA, integrated quality control for Maehyang is no longer an issue. TV ads for Maehyang will be broadcast in Singapore from this December. The SEA will conduct Korean strawberry promotions in Russia, together with aT (Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corp.) and Korean Airlines (KAL). While continuing to export to Singapore and Hong Kong as our primary markets, we are also going to pioneer new markets.

Inquiries   Elim Trading Co.,Ltd.       
Tel   +82-31-613-0147~8       
E-mail    www.elimkorea.com       
Website    ohmycalvin@naver.com           

Park Sung Eun  parkse@agrinet.co.kr

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