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Fresh and Sweet Gimcheon GrapesSaegimcheon Nonghyup Sees Growing Popularity of Its High-Quality Kyoho and Shine Muscat Grapes in Ten Countries

Around this time of the year, major grape-producing areas in Korea fill with a refreshing sweet scent of grapes. Grapes are generally harvested there between July and September. Among many varieties of Korean grapes, Kyoho, Campbell Early, and Shine Muscat are the most well-known. Kyoho and Campbell Early are in the family of black grapes, whereas the Shine Muscat grapes are green. All three are steadily exported abroad.

Saegimcheon Nonghyup is an agricultural cooperative located in Gimcheon, one of Korea’s major grape-producing areas. The cooperative leads in exports of high-quality grapes and makes every effort to pioneer new markets.

Overseas Debut in 2011 with Competitively Priced Kyoho Grapes
The Gimcheon area is renowned as the largest producer of Kyoho grapes in Korea. Kyoho grapes feature large-sized berries and are very sweet, with a sugar content of 16 to 18 Brix on average. Thanks to their good mouthfeel, they receive favorable reviews both at home and abroad. Saegimcheon Nonghyup started exporting Kyoho grapes in 2011. Although its overseas debut was relatively late compared to other Kyoho grape producers, the cooperative has quickly earned the recognition of overseas buyers and consumers for its thorough quality control and active overseas promotions. It produces and exports grapes under the principle that only the best-quality grapes can satisfy the tastes of foreign consumers.

According to Lee Yong-taek, President of Saegimcheon Nonghyup, the cooperative focuses on continuous exports and not one-time deals, so it regularly conducts market surveys to analyze preferences of overseas consumers in terms of the sugar content, color, size, packaging style, and the like. Lee adds, “Our Kyoho grapes are more competitively priced than the Japanese Kyoho grapes, even though they are similar to Japanese rivals in taste and quality.”

Shine Muscat Grapes First Exported Last Year and Are Already Gaining Popularity with Southeast Asian Consumers
In addition to its flagship, Kyoho grapes, Saegimcheon Nonghyup started exporting Shine Muscat grapes last year. Unlike the black grape varieties of Kyoho and Campbell Early which have inedible skins, the Shine Muscat is a seedless green grape that does not have to be peeled. The berries are large and crispy. The Shine Muscat grapes of Saegimcheon Nonghyup are also very juicy and sweet, with an average sugar content of 18 to 22 Brix. They are second to no other fruit in terms of sweetness—strawberry averages 13 Brix, pear, 15 Brix, and banana, 16 Brix. Furthermore, Shine Muscat grapes are also more suitable for exports due to their high storability compared to other grape varieties. The cooperative first introduced them to Southeast Asian consumers in Singapore and Malaysia last year and received an excellent response, with its products being sold out in just four days after entering the market, despite a relatively high price.

Song Sang-pil, the head of sales at Saegimcheon Nonghyup, says, “Shine Muscat grapes have a high sugar content with just a little bit of sourness, so they are gaining huge popularity among Southeast Asian consumers who are not that fond of a sour taste.” According to Song, most green grapes distributed in the region are quite expensive. Compared to the Japanese Shine Muscat grapes, those of Saegimcheon Nonghyup are priced approximately 30% lower while their bunches have 20 to 30% more berries, making them highly competitive in Southeast Asian markets.

Plans to Pioneer Chinese and Canadian Markets with Shine Muscat Grapes This Year
Saegimcheon Nonghyup has set its export goal at 350 tons of grapes (worth US$ 1.8 million) this year. This is much larger than the last year’s target of 270 tons (US$ 1.3 million). The cooperative also plans to expand its markets from eight to ten countries, capitalizing on newly established complexes for exports of Shine Muscat grapes to China and Canada. To boost its overseas sales, the cooperative will host many overseas events promoting Gimcheon grapes.

Lee said, “We have already started export of Kyoho grapes in late May and export of Shine Muscat grapes in late July, one month earlier than last year. We will do our best to further boost the competitiveness of our grapes through thorough quality control.”

* Additional Info: The Quality Control at Saegimcheon Nonghyup
Saegimcheon Nonghyup is armed with a production system geared for export of high quality grapes. All 71 member-farms possess GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) certifications. They also belong to a grape export complex and apply the same standardized techniques for the cultivation of grapes, disease control, and pest prevention. The cooperative regularly invites experts to offer training in advanced cultivation techniques.

Upon harvesting, the grapes for export are carefully selected through a three-stage sorting process. The cooperative set up its criteria for sugar content, acidity, color, and weight in accordance with international standards. In addition, its products never fail tests for agricultural residues and other quarantine procedures of importing countries. Thanks to these efforts, Saegimcheon Nonghyup has not received a single complaint on the quality of its grapes from overseas buyers or consumers.

*Saegimcheon Nonghyup
Tel : +82-54-430-3017, +82-10-3549-5676 (Son Sang-pil, Head of Sales)
Fax : +82-54-430-3746
Email: ssp724@naver.com

Park Sung Eun  parkse@agrinet.co.kr

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