Ichiyama Paprika Gets Its Bright Colors from Abundant Sunlight
The Korean bell pepper increased its share of the Japanese imported bell pepper market to 64 percent last year. Japanese consumers are known for being very fastidious and smart. For the Korean bell pepper, its various vivid colors and crispy texture are the keys to success in such a tough market. Another advantage is that the sugar content of the Korean bell pepper is higher than in the products of other countries.
Hankook Nursery Corp. is a Korean bell pepper exporter that has been cultivating the Japanese market since the Korean bell pepper was first introduced in the country.
A Living Witness to Korean Bell Pepper Exports, Hankook Nursery Corp.
Hankook Nursery Corp. is located in Ilsan City of Gyeonggi Province. The company has been supplying vegetables to the Japanese market since 1998. Given that the Korean bell pepper entered Japan in 1995, it is no exaggeration to say that Hankook Nursery Corp. has been in the vanguard of Korean bell pepper exports.
Lee Byung-chan, President of Hankook Nursery Corp., reminisced, “Back in 1998, the bell pepper was new to Koreans. We knew few techniques and had no skills for bell pepper cultivation. I lacked sufficient experience at that time. In the beginning, I had many trials and errors. So I invited a bell pepper expert from the Netherlands to learn advanced cultivation skills. I also invited buyers from Dole Japan to receive their advice on the sorting process. From the very beginning, we were consulting with experts regarding each stage of the process―selection of cultivars, cultivation, harvesting, sorting, and packaging for export. That is how Hankook Nursery Corp. was able to build a firm foundation.”
More Sunlight with Glass Greenhouses
Key to the Bright Colors of Hankook Nursery’s Bell Pepper
But President Lee did not stop there. He decided to personally go to the Netherlands to study advanced cultivation methods. Through these efforts, he developed his own cultivation skills that better suit the conditions in Korea. One of his innovations is using glass greenhouses to increase the amount of sunlight that the bell peppers receive. The stronger the sunlight, the more beautiful the bell pepper colors become. It also helps increase production.
All aspects of the cultivation environment at Hankook Nursery Corp. are controlled by a computerized system and the company has hired a professional managing director who specializes in controlling the cultivation systems for high-quality bell peppers.
Recently Hankook Nursery Corp. rebuilt the greenhouses to raise the ceiling. In the new environment, the vegetable grows taller and faster. Furthermore, the company has installed mesh on the ceilings of the greenhouses to prevent insects from entering the greenhouse when the ceiling is opened for ventilation.
What’s more, Hankook Nursery Corp. acquired GAP (Good Agricultural Practice) certification and was selected as a “star farm,” a title given by the Korean government to only the safest among organic and GAP-certified farms.
Selling to Japanese Supermarkets and Restaurants Under the Brand Name Ichiyama Paprika
About 40 percent of the bell peppers exported by Hankook Nursery Corp. is supplied to restaurants. They are also sold at supermarkets and department stores (30 percent) and conventional markets (30 percent). All of them are distributed under the brand name “Ichiyama Paprika.” The name was inspired by the Japanese pronunciation of Ilsan, the area where the farm is located. Japanese buyers were impressed by the high quality and vivid colors of Hankook Nursery’s bell peppers and started calling it Ichiyama Paprika. In 2004, the company officially registered Ichiyama Paprika as its trademark.
To increase the export volume, last May Hankook Nursery Corp. expanded its cultivation area by signing contracts with other bell pepper farms (located in Hwaseong City and Cheolwon County). In the second half of last year, the export volume reached USD$3 million.
President Lee said, “I’m doing my best to grow high-quality products and enhance their competitive power. Through our exports to the US, which started in 2012, I hope to increase the awareness of the Korean bell pepper in the American market.”
Next Generation of Hankook Nursery Corp.― Lee Young-giu, General Affairs Manager
“I will Make a State-of-the-art
Bell Pepper Farm That Will Rival Scientific Research Stations.”
There is a new face in Hankook Nursery Corp. It is Lee Young-giu who joined the company last year. He is the son-in-law of the company’s president. The younger Mr. Lee has what it takes to become an expert in farming. He studied in Korea and Japan and received a master’s degree in agriculture.
Recently, he took the lead in setting up a geothermal system. The new system will help reduce the huge heating and electricity expenses on the farm. He plans to reinvest the saved resources into producing bell peppers of superior quality. Mr. Lee also spends his time studying the methods for preserving the freshness of the harvested product. He hopes to restart exports of Hankook Nursery’s bell pepper to the US.
Mr. Lee revealed his ambition, “I will do my best to cultivate the best quality bell pepper and I will put forth all necessary efforts to equip our farms with facilities that will rival those at scientific research stations.”
Inquiries Hankook Nursery Corp.