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Korean pear market continues to see growth in US
Pears from Korea are becoming more popular in the United States. The unique growing conditions in Korea allow for a juicy, sweet and crunchy pear which has led to an increase in sales from customers discovering the flavor. EJ Lee, of Everhills Foods, shared her observation on the growth of the Korean pear market in the United States.
"Korean pears were first imported into the United States 20 years ago," she said. "At first, it was Koreans that had emigrated to the United States that were buying the pears as they missed the flavors of their home. Gradually, market growth spread to the rest of the Asian market and now, Korean pear varieties are available in a lot of major supermarkets, as Americans get used to the delicious flavor."
Pears in harvest now
Harvesting has started in Korea and shippers are busy packing them in preparation for shipment into the United States. Packing will continue until the end of the year and the pears are available now right through to May.
"We have 4 main varieties of pears that we market in the US," continued Lee. "The early season varieties are the Wonhwang, Golden and Hwasan Pear, followed by the later season Shingo. The harvest begins in August and the pears are packed from August to December. All the pears need to be inspected by USDA officers in Korea and they only stay until the middle of December. So shippers have to finish all the packing while the inspectors are in Korea. This is a regulation between Korea and the United States. It means US customers have the freshest and best quality pears. From Korea to Los Angeles, shipping takes 11 days and to New York 21 days by sea. Shelf life is more than three months if the pears are kept in a good refrigeration system with temperatures around +/- 34 degrees. This means that Korean pears are available right through May."
Growing conditions ensure sweet flavor
Warm days and cool nights, as well as a plentiful water supply ensures Korean pears are sweet and juicy, which is a big attraction to the US market. The growing season has had some challenges with insects, but suppliers are seeing good quality and steady supply coming through.
"Huge temperature differences help the growth of the pear trees," Lee noted. "They also need a lot of water, of which there is a good supply. As a result, Korean pears are very sweet and juicy and they are also crunchy, which customers love. Because of volume, prices and shelf life, the Shingo is the most popular in the United States. We are looking to develop the Changzho Pear, but that won't be available for some time yet."
Lee said they continue to see growth in sales as customers try the pears and enjoy them. She also recommended to keep them cool and peel them for the best flavor. "In Korea, we peel the pear all the time but buyers have told me their customers like to eat them as they are," she said. "I recommend to peel them for an even better flavor. It's also good to keep them cool until just before eating to maintain sweetness and freshness. I have a lot of demonstrations where I give out samples. People are surprised by the size and flavor of the pear and then they ask me where they can buy it. There has been a steady growth in the market for Korean pears and we hope that this will continue and more customers are able to buy them."
For more information:
Everhills Foods, Inc.
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