Jeju Island, one of the sites on the UNESCO list of World Natural Heritage, is a famous tourist destination in Korea. Even in the middle of the winter, many people visit to enjoy views of Halla Mountain covered with snow and to enjoy Jeju specialty fruit, satsuma and Hallabong.
Koreans love citruses from Jeju because they have a sweet-and-sour taste and can be easily peeled by hand. February is the best time to taste these fruit because it is the peak of the harvesting season.
If you cannot visit Jeju this month, do not get discouraged. Jeju citruses are available in other countries, too. Many farmers and exporting companies on the island offer satsumas and Hallabong oranges in the international market, so you can see these fruit in stores of Canada, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the US, and other places. One of the largest exporters of citruses from Jeju is the Farming Cooperative Jeju Citrus Village.
Won the Hearts of Korean Consumers and Overseas Buyers with Thoroughly Selected Fruit and Excellent Customer Service
The Farming Cooperative Jeju Citrus Village is located in Bomok-dong of Seogwipo City. It was established in 2005 and started exporting citruses in 2009. Even though the cooperative entered the export business relatively late, it is rapidly increasing its overseas sales volume with the help of knowhow accumulated in the domestic market. Heo Min-chul, CEO of Jeju Citrus Village, said, “This cooperative is a robust company with annual sales of US$ 1 million. We are among the two largest handlers of fresh food in Jeju.” He added, “We have been able to grow so much because we have earned consumer trust through a direct transaction system where we meticulously select the produce we ship and offer 100% refunds even in the case of minor claims.”
When shipping fruit abroad, the transportation period is longer and the consumers are less familiar with Jeju citruses, so to be competitive in foreign markets, the cooperative applies these principles to overseas sales even more rigorously.
Great effort is invested in quality control at the cultivation stage. Kim Dong-hyun, a manager of Jeju Citrus Village, explained, "Only the fruit that pass the primary inspections at the farms—such as the inspections for residual pesticides, pests, and damages—can enter the cooperative facility. They are then checked again, and those that are too sour or have a low sugar content are removed.”
The citruses go through an automated line equipped with a non-destructive sugar meter. Kim is confident that since the fruit are inspected three times visually and using tools, all citruses that do not meet standards in terms of size, appearance, and sugar content are sorted out.
Direct export is another factor in the cooperative’s international competitiveness. By removing the intermediary, Jeju Citrus Village is able to offer premium satsumas and Hallabong to foreign buyers at reasonable prices. Moreover, the cooperative is able to quickly resolve any problems arising during the exporting process. Heo said with pride, “We take even small complaints from buyers very seriously. We often meet buyers in person in order to find a solution. Buyers praise us for providing wholehearted service even in replies to minor issues raised by email.”
Skyrocketing Export Performance
As buyers’ trust has rapidly grown, so did the export volume of Jeju Citrus Village. It has increased five times from US$ 93,500 in 2016 to US$ 468,000 in 2017. This year, the cooperative aims to export US$ 940,000 worth of fruit.
Heo said, "We are receiving positive reviews from buyers and an increasing number of requests from different countries. Buyers from Taiwan and Hong Kong, are major markets, are steadily placing orders, and negotiations with buyers from Mongolia are underway.” He added, "We are interested both in increasing exports to existing markets and in exploring new ones." In addition, the cooperative has plans to start exporting other citrus varieties, such as Cheonhye Hyang and Red Hyang satsumas.
Farming Cooperative Juju Citrus Village
Kim Hyo Jin firstname.lastname@example.org
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