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The Pride of Korean Pear Exports, Naju PearReaching the Markets throughout Asia, the Middle East, and South America

Korea is a country of four distinct seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Thanks to the variations in weather, each season offers different agriproducts. When the cold wind starts to blow in late fall, the harvest of golden-colored pears begins. The main type of pears cultivated in Korea is round and crispy Singo. Renowned for their high quality, Korean Singo pears are actively exported to the US and over thirty other countries. Let us learn more about Korean pears from the Naju area which leads the export of Singo pears.

Naju Pears Known as Luxurious Pears
To many Koreans, Naju City of South Jeolla Province is the first thing that comes to their minds when they think of pears. As a result of ideal weather conditions, geographical advantages, a long history of cultivation, and excellent technology, Naju pears have a high sugar content and a lot of juice. The area receives about 670mm of rain between July and September, which is the optimal amount for pears during the period of growth. Local soil is rich and well drained. Naju pears are mentioned in the annals of King Sejong (compiled in 1454) as a local product supplied to the royal palace.

Leading the Korean Pear Industry by Expanding the Export Volume of Naju Pears, Naju Pear Agricultural Cooperative Association
Founded in 1958, Naju Pear Agricultural Cooperative Association debuted overseas with the first shipment of pears to Taiwan in the 1970s. It has now grown into a company specializing in pear exports. The association received awards as one of Korea’s top exporters of agricultural products in 1995, 1999, 2000, 2005, 2009, 2013, and 2015. The top exporter award is given annually by the Korean government to farmers, producer groups, and exporters with largest contributions to exports.

Hwang Gyeong-hwa, a manager in charge of distribution and exports, says, “Our success is based on devoting much effort to quality control of exported produce.” She explains, “We select products—small-sized pears with the sugar content of 12 to 14°Bx—in accordance with preferences of overseas consumers and regularly carry out cultivation training for farmers to ensure the production of pears of standardized quality.” To preserve their freshness, pears for export are harvested by the ripening period and stored separately in the low-temperature warehouse of an Agricultural Processing Center. The association has agreements with over 400 farmers cultivating pears for export to the US and Taiwan. The agreements regulate the use of bags and pesticides, the inspection of orchards, and the field coaching.

As a result of these efforts, the association has been able to extend its markets to more countries than any other pear producer in Korea. Bae Min-ho, managing director of the association, says with pride, “We are shipping pears not only to the mainland US and Taiwan, which are the main importers of Korean pears, but also to Vietnam, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Singapore, Hawaii, Denmark, Australia, and New Zealand.”

The First Export of Korean Pears to Brazil
An agreement between Korean and Brazilian governments on quarantine requirements for Korean pears was signed in February this year, and the exports started in November. Hwang said, “So far, we have shipped 2 tons of fresh Naju pears to Brazil.” The association is planning to carry out promotional events for the fruit in cooperation with aT (Korea Agro-Fisheries Trade Corporation) as soon as the first shipment arrives in Brazil. Lee Sang-gye, President of the association, said, “The beginning of export to Brazil signals our advance to the Latin American market.” Expressing his ambition, Lee said, “We have had good crops and the number of farmers who want to participate in the exporting business is increasing, so we hope to expand our markets to every corner of the globe.”

*Naju Pear Agricultural Cooperative Association
Tel: +82-61-334-2365, +82-10-3642-6107
Fax: +82-61-332-2365
E-mail: khhwang11@naver.com

Additional Information/How Different Are Korean Pears?

If you are used to only eating gourd-shaped soft pears, a bite of Korean Singo pear will be a completely new experience for you. Even though both fruits are pears, the shape and taste are totally different.

Characteristics of Korean Singo pears
1. Round shape: Pears that are common in the US and Europe are gourd-shaped, whereas Korean pears are round like apples.

2. Crispy texture: Gourd-shaped pears are usually soft, whereas Korean pears have a crispy texture.

3. High sugar content: Korean pears have a sugar content of 12 to 14°Bx on average. For this reason, it is more common to consume them raw rather than using them for baking or to make salads as is the case with many gourd-shaped pears.

Kim Hyo Jin  hjkim@agrinet.co.kr

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