The number of single households is on the rise in advanced markets such as the US, Japan, and Europe, and the consumption of processed food in small packages as well as mini-sized agricultural products is expanding. In Korea, the cultivation of different types of miniature fruits and vegetables is steadily increasing. A mini bell pepper Raon developed using Korean seed technology was first exported to Japan in the November of 2016, opening up new possibilities for overseas sales of Korean bell peppers.
Araon Farm, the Exporter of Raon, Makes the First Shipment to Japan Last November
Located in Hapcheon County of South Gyeongsang Province, Araon Farm started cultivating Raon bell peppers in July 2016. In just four months, it was able to make the first shipment of 2.1 tons to Japan. This has been followed by steady shipments twice a week, every Wednesday and Friday.
Mr. Park Sam-sup, the CEO of Araon Farm, said, “We are a cultivation complex with the sole purpose of exporting Raon bell peppers. Our goal is to export 100 tons of Raon bell peppers a year, grown in smart greenhouses on the territory of 9,920㎡. With the help of Gyeongsangnam-do Agricultural Research & Extension Services (GNARES), which developed the Raon seeds, we landed a contract with a Japanese big importer, Infarm, last July and are now supplying Raon bell peppers to the Japanese market.”
Higher Yield and More Competitive Price than Mini Bell Peppers from the Netherlands
The development of mini bell pepper Raon started about ten years ago in 2007. Even then, the trend for mini fruits and vegetables was already visible in advanced countries. Taking note of the increasing demand for smaller-sized bell peppers in Japan, the largest export market for Korean bell pepper, Dr. An Chul-geon of GNARES took the leading role in developing seeds for the Korean variety of mini bell peppers. The project gained momentum through the Golden Seed Project (GSP; a Korean seed development project led by the Korean government), which started in 2013, and the first Korean mini bell pepper, Raon, was born in 2015.
Dr. An explains, “The weight of a Dutch mini bell pepper―the most widely distributed type of mini bell pepper in the world―is about 30g, and the price is expensive because the yield is relatively low. In contrast, Raon weighs 50g on average and the yield is much higher, so its price competitiveness is also high. Moreover, many foreign buyers and consumers prefer the crispier texture of Raon bell peppers. That is why I am confident that Raon bell pepper has a good export potential.”
Various Colors…Applied for Registration as a Protected Plant Variety
Araon farm cultivates five kinds of Raon bell peppers: Red, Yellow, Orange, Adami Red, and Gaon Red. It has applied for registration for all five as protected new varieties and obtained the GAP (Good Agricultural Practice) certification for management of food hygiene and food safety. This year, the farm will start growing Raon bell peppers in an environment-friendly way by using natural enemies for pest control.
Mr. Park speaks of his aspirations: “As the first export complex for Raon, our farm will actively promote its advantages and excellent quality in Japan and other foreign countries. An export business always depends on the trust of overseas buyers and consumers, and we will do our best to ensure a stable supply of high-quality Raon bell peppers for them.”
# Additional Info: What are the characteristic features of Raon mini bell pepper?
- Raon is about a quarter of a full-sized bell pepper. It has a high sugar content and is very crunchy.
- Each Raon bell pepper is merely 10㎉, so it is good for losing weight.
- Raon Red contains a lot of lycopene which is good to prevent aging. Raon Yellow is rich in beta-carotene renowned for its anti-cancer effect. Raon Orange is good for skin brightening because it has plenty of vitamin C.
- Raon is an old Korean word for “enjoy.”
# Mini Interview: Dr. An Chum-geon, Agricultural Researcher of GNARES
“I Believe Sweet Raon Can Become Popular as a Healthy Vegetable Alternative to Fruit.”
Dr. An who headed the development of seeds for Raon bell pepper is positive that his creation will gain popularity overseas as a healthy vegetable replacing fruit as an ingredient for many dishes. He explains, “The sugar content of Raon averages 11°Bx, almost double of that in common bell pepper. Moreover, the mini bell pepper is small so it does not need cutting and is easy to eat. With active promotions, its overseas sales can rapidly expand.”
Dr. An emphasizes, “Raon bell pepper is already receiving a positive response from young female consumers in Japan. To raise the consumption of Raon in the Japanese market, it is important to promote its merits and spread recipes using it among local consumers.” He adds, “This March, I will go to Japan along with Mr. Park (CEO of Araon Farm) to observe the reaction of Japanese consumers to our mini bell peppers and devise a strategy to boost the consumption of Raon in the country.”
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