Plan for Exports of Fresh Hwaseong Grapes to the Chinese Market
Agreement on Prerequisites for Grape Exports between Korean and Chinese Plant Quarantine Authorities
Recently, a final agreement on the prerequisites for exporting Korean grapes to China has been made at a meeting between the two plant quarantine authorities of Korea and China. Until recently, no agreement had been made on the requirements for plant quarantines of Korean fruits and the export of Korean grapes to China. Now that the agreement has been made, Korean fresh grapes are expected to be exported to China. After the outline for the exports of the Korean fresh grapes to China has been arranged in accordance with the agreement, the Korean grapes will be exported to China later this year.
The main grape export regions in Korea include Hwaseong in Gyeonggi Province, Yeongcheon and Sangju in North Gyeongsang Province, Yeongdong in North Chungcheong Province, Cheonan in South Chungcheong Province, and so on. Among these regions, Hwaseong Grape Association located in Hwaseong is at the vanguard of grape exports. Last year, the association succeeded in exporting 26 tons of fresh grapes to Australia where quarantine and inspection conditions are rigid.
Hwaseong grapes received the recognition for their high level of safety and marketability to the extent that the price was set at AUD$28.00 per 2kg box in the Australian consumer market. Hwaseong grapes that have satisfied the Chinese quarantine conditions are believed to have the high possibility of further expansion into the Chinese market.
Construction of System Optimized for the Production of Export-bound Hwaseong Grapes
Behind the recognized marketability of the grapes supplied by the Hwaseong association in the Australian market are production and selection processes and a transport system optimized for exports. For about 13 years, around 40 member farms affiliated with the association have been producing grapes to be exported to foreign countries including the US, Australia, and Singapore. Every month, the association visits the grape farms to check the progress of grape cultivation and exchanges related information with the farms in order to produce the grapes that will satisfy the local consumers in the import countries. In addition, the association offers the technical education required for improving cultivation techniques regularly on a yearly basis. Thanks to such efforts made by the association, most grape farms are armed with standardized cultivation techniques and capabilities for controlling disease and insects. In addition, the grape farms were able to obtain the GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) certification. The grape farms can provide consumers with reliability by controlling diseases and insects with only a standardized amount of agricultural pesticide that has had its safety guaranteed. The grape farms also conduct cleaning work using air compressors around the middle of June, before covering the grapes with bags to produce cleaner grapes.
Mr. Nam Youn-hyoun, CEO of the Hwaseong Grape Association, said that the association started providing the air compressors three years ago to clean the grapes and thereby enabled the farmers to also conduct first cluster thinning work. According to Mr. Nam, the higher quality grapes can be produced with less labor.
Long-Term Retention of Freshness using Precooling Process
In addition, cultivation techniques accumulated over many years and the precooling process allow the Hwaseong grapes to retain their freshness for 40-45 days. As this factor, retaining freshness of fruits for a longer period of time, is really important to the buyers who import the fresh produce, they are receiving recognition from the overseas markets. In addition to the cultivation techniques, a core part of the secret for the long-term retention of freshness is precooling. The precooling is a process of decreasing the internal temperature of grapes to a preset temperature immediately after the harvested grapes arrive at a distribution center. After being harvested, the grapes lose water rapidly and, accordingly, the tip of the fruit gets dry, and begins browning. The pulp shrinks so the clusters of the grapes are shattered. Thus, the precooling process is required to decrease the internal temperature of the grapes as soon as possible after the grapes are harvested.
After the precooling process, the grapes are sorted out and packed in a working area at 10℃ or below. The association tries hard to retain the marketability of the grapes by applying a cold-chain system even during the containerization.
Mr. Nam explained that the precooling is the optimal process to reduce the amount of inhalation and retain the freshness of the grapes. He continued that, thanks to the precooling, the grapes can compete with other fruits in overseas markets; including in the US, Singapore, and Australia.
Exports of Hwaseong Grapes to the Chinese Market are Anticipated in the Middle of August
Mr. Nam predicts that the quality of the Hwaseong grapes can appeal to the Chinese market. The association is exporting more than 100 tons of the grapes to Singapore, which consists mainly of Chinese people. In the initial stage, the association had a difficulty exporting the grapes because they were unfamiliar to the local consumers. The grapes belong to the Campbell Early cultivar, which contains seeds and whose skin needs to be removed first. However, seedless grape cultivars and other cultivars without the need to remove the skin abound in the world markets. The association had to give information on the characteristics of Korean grapes and how to eat the grapes.
Nevertheless, the association was able to secure local consumers due to the unique characteristics of the Korean grapes: rich scents and the combination of sweetness and sourness. The grapes sell at $3.30 for a 400g bunch of grapes.
According to Mr. Nam, the association began holding sampling events in Shanghai three years ago and the local consumers have shown favorable responses. Thus, the grapes can be exported to China after the middle of August. He emphasized that the debut of the Hwaseong grapes in the Chinese market will be successful if the association benchmarks the experience it had for nine years after entering the Singaporean market.
Inquiries Hwaseong Grape Association