A new Korean fruit import company has hit the ground running, or flying, with deals already signed for table grape imports from Peru and Chile.
During the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) Fruittrade Latin America event in Santiago last week, Seoul-based The JS Trade Inc CEO Jin Seok Hur told www.freshfruitportal.com his company was just a week old at the time.
“I worked for other Korean fruit companies for two years, so I have the experience to import fruit and in sales in the Korean market. I think this is the best thing that I can do,” he said.
“This is my first visit to Chile. I really like the weather, people are nice and the venue is really good. I can meet reliable and great suppliers, and the lunch was good too.
He said the types of grapes imported from South America were very different to local grapes, which enjoyed protection from seasonal tariffs.
“The type of grape we grow domestically is totally different – it’s called Campbell. There is a seed, you just pop it and the flesh comes out,” he said.
“So Korean grapes are very popular and they’re not that expensive, but the season goes from May until November. That is why we import from Peru and Chile, because we can have them from November to April when there is not much competitive domestic fruit during that period,” he said, adding consumers liked the ‘edible-skin’ grape varieties of Thompson Seedless, Crimson Seedless and Red Globe.
“Chilean grapes don’t have tariffs now but from May there will be 45% tariffs…so I’ll have to import a lot in April, keep it in storage and sell it in May. That is one of the strategies.”
Hur also saw opportunities in the long-term from his country’s free trade agreement (FTA) with Australia.
“This year there are 45% tariffs for the Australian grapes and zero tariffs for the Chilean grapes, so they cannot compete,” he said.
“That’s a lot of difference, so I don’t want to do the Australian grapes for this season, but it’s going to be reduced next year, step-by-step, so maybe in five years the Australian grapes will have competitiveness.”