A recent US trade mission has revealed untapped export growth potential for Oregon-state-grown produce in South Korea, The News Review reports.
Erick Garman, trade manager with the Oregon Department of Agriculture and member of the Western United States Agricultural Trade Association (WUSATA) delegation that recently visited South Korea, told the paper the Korean market craves many of the products Oregon can provide.
“The products that we already export to Korea are in high demand and we can continue to increase that market share, but there are great opportunities for additional products, based on what we saw and heard,” he said.
Garman and others toured several retail outlets in Seoul as part of the trade mission and received detailed presentations from US agricultural officials based in South Korea.
Sang Yong Oh, senior marketing specialist at the US Agricultural Trade Office in Seoul, briefed the WUSATA delegates on key trends affecting the market, which include growing demand for healthy food, such as fruit and nuts; greater demand for new taste experience; rising demand for quick meal solutions; and high household expenditure on food (27.5 per cent).
Oh also told delegates that the Korean-US Free Trade Agreement, signed in 2012, has increased US exports to Korea by nearly 5 per cent and greatly reduced tariffs, leading to more competitive prices for US exports.
Oregon now exports nearly US$100m in agricultural products to Korea.
“The free trade agreement has absolutely been good for Oregon agriculture,” said Oh. “The volume of business has really grown the past two or three years. Both sides have to work together to fulfill the opportunity, but I think Oregon is in the right position to meet the changing taste and demand among Korean customers.”
The demand for fruit and nuts is especially attractive to Oregon, which has already established a strong export market for fresh blueberries, being the only US state, so far, to gain access into the Korean market for blueberries, the report said.
David Oh of Jinwon Trading Company, the Korean importer of Oregon blueberries, told delegates: “The Korean people love berries, but other varieties are not open to our market yet. If you have these other varieties, please push our government to open our market to them. We want to expand and offer more different types of berries.”
Koreans love nuts too, presenting an opportunity to Oregon hazelnut growers if production is high enough to meet demand, the report said.
But Koreans are not familiar with hazelnuts, so promotions and educational efforts - as done for blueberries - would be needed to launch the product, the paper said.