150 Tons of Seongju Chamoe Exported Annually to Singapore & Hong Kong
Wolhang Nonghyup at the Vanguard of Promoting the Taste of Chamoe to Local Consumers with Chamoe Sampling Events
Traditionally, in season fresh fruit is said to be a restorative that can stimulate your appetite and maintain your health. Chamoe (Korean melon, Cucumis melo L. var. makuwa) is yellow when well ripened and one of the fruits that Koreans consume most as summer approaches. Due to the ample amount of water in it, this representative Korean summer fruit can be enjoyed more fully and with greater refreshment when it is eaten after being refrigerated. Toward the end of May, chamoe production increases rapidly and the chamoe price decreases accordingly. At the same time, the chamoe harvested in this season is high in sugar content.
Korean chamoe originated in India. It is said to have been transferred through China and cultivated before the first century B.C. Thus, it is one of the most familiar fruits to Koreans due to its long history, after it was first eaten in Korea, of over 2,000 years. Currently, the yellow fruit is cultivated in Korea in a combined area of 10,000 hectares.
Seongju County in North Geongsang Province is the chief region in Korea for cultivating chamoe. The county supplies approximately 70 percent of the chamoe produced in Korea. It is optimal for producing chamoe thanks to the climate, sunshine, and soil suitable for cultivating the fruit.
Chamoe has a harder flesh than melon, which is widely enjoyed in European and American countries. In Korea, chamoe is enjoyed after peeling its skin thinly and removing the seeds. To get a sweeter taste, however, some Korean adults eat the whole fruit without peeling the skin or removing the seeds.
Healthy Food with Various Nutrients and Effects
Technically speaking, chamoe is classified into the category of vegetables. However, it is enjoyed as a fruit for dessert. It is wholesome food having various nutrients and beneficial effects. It is a low-calorie food with an ample amount of water and is good for quenching thirst. In addition, it is rich in a cancer-suppressing substance called cucurbitacin and is helpful in preventing cancers and alleviating sufferings caused by cancers. It also abounds in folic acid, which is known to ease anemia. It is a natural, healthy food that can be safely consumed by pregnant women who need folic acid in their pregnancies.
What’s more, the glucose and fructose contained in chamoe in particular are absorbed faster than those of other fruits, and the fruit is thus more effective in relieving fatigue. That’s why hikers take chamoe along as a snack when going hiking or climbing up a mountain. Chamoe is also an alkaline food. For people who sweat a lot and whose bodies are prone to acidification, it means that it’s helpful for keeping the balance. It is also helpful in eliminating harmful bacteria from the body. Due to such beneficial effects, young chamoe has been used as a medicinal ingredient from ancient times in Korea. According to Dongui Bogam (literally translated as “Mirror of Eastern Medicine”), compiled by the royal physician Heo Jun (1539-1615 A.D.) and first published in 1613, chamoe suppresses coughing and is good for constipation and jaundice.
Wolhang Nonghyup Exported 80 Tons of Chamoe to Singapore Last Year
The chamoe loved by Koreans succeeded in entering the Japanese market ten years ago and is now advancing into Southeast Asian markets including Singapore and Hong Kong. The annual amount of chamoe exported to the main markets―including Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong―reaches about 150 tons. Currently, the chamoe exports mostly come from Seongju County and the Wolhang Nonghyup (agricultural cooperative) started exporting chamoe to Southeast Asian markets three years ago. Wolhang Nonghyup participated in promotional events held in Singapore in April of last year and had a meeting to discuss an export agreement with Century Global. Through the meeting and discussion, Wolhang Nonghyup obtained a good result and was able to export 80 tons of chamoe at the equivalent price of USD$320,000. The promotional events for local consumers were held four times in the big market chains of Giant Vivo City and Giant IMM.
Behind the brisk exports of chamoe are the enthusiastic support and effort made by the Seongju County Office. The county office came forward to pioneer overseas markets because it needs to stabilize the domestic price of chamoe, especially when the fruit is distributed in large quantities.
Mr. Cho Gu-yeol, a managing director of Wolhang Nonghyup, said that the agricultural cooperative started exporting chamoe, which is a specialty of Seongju County, to promote the excellence of the fruit around the world and to rectify a structural issue in which the fruit is only distributed domestically. He continued that, from the administrative aspect, the agricultural cooperative is applying an export policy to help to stabilize farmer incomes as the opening of the Korean agricultural products to foreign markets is accelerated.
Striving to Increase Brand Awareness of Chamoe in Southeast Asian Markets
Chamoe is not harvested as a product to be domestically distributed or as a product to be exported. Around 106 member farms participate in the joint supply and sorting processes conducted at the regional agricultural product distribution center of Wolhang Nonghyup. Most member farms apply eco-friendly farming methods to minimize the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. This ensures the safety of the fruit. However, the exported chamoe is selected from only a few high-class farms in terms of cultivation techniques and quality. The chamoe produced by the farms recognized for the marketability of the shape and taste of the chamoe are exported. In addition, Wolhang Nonghyup recommends that the member farms select and cultivate any of three chamoe cultivars determined to be suitable for maintaining the chamoe’s uniform shape, color, and flesh.
Although the exports to the Southeast Asian markets are in the initial stage, they have a huge potential for growth. Compared to tropical fruits with a soft flesh, chamoe features a crispy flesh that, while unfamiliar to the local consumers, actually receives a favorable response.
Mr. Cho said that, when Wolhang Nonghyup was promoting chamoe and targeting local children at a sampling event, the children liked it and their parents immediately took an interest in chamoe. He explained that, since chamoe is not a fruit local consumers frequently enjoy, Wolhang Nonghyup attaches a sticker indicating how to eat chamoe onto the packaging before exporting chamoe.
To expand the exports to Japan this year, he released a plan to individually package chamoe in plastic packing. He also predicted that the Southeast Asian region would have high growth potential. According to Mr. Cho, Wolhang Nonghyup plans to make further efforts to raise the brand awareness of Seongju chamoe in overseas markets, including in Singapore and Hong Kong, in order to disperse the supply of chamoe and stabilize the incomes of chamoe farms.
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