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Korean Air brings farm freshness into the clouds

Located on Jeju Island, about 55 miles off the southwest coast of South Korea, the Jedong Ranch has been operating since 1972, supplying produce, meats and spring water to Korean Air’s in-flight catering operations. The 2-ha greenhouse complex is tucked into a corner of the 1,280-ha ranch, located east of UNESCO World Heritage site Hallasan National Park.

The ranch is part of a property owned by Korean Air that includes Jeongseok Airport, home to the airline’s flight training center. The farm grows bell peppers and cherry tomatoes that are delivered to the airline’s flight kitchens at Incheon and Gimpo international airports, a trip that takes four hours by truck and plane.

Once there, the produce is prepared, with 165 tons of cherry tomatoes grown annually finding their way into meals for flights departing from South Korea. Most of the bell peppers are served as a soup in the airline’s first and Prestige classes, as well as in salads and side dishes. Not all of the peppers are used for in-flight catering – about 40 percent are sold through retail outlets or online via the airline’s e-Skyshop catalog, along with some of the greenhouses’ tomato crop.

“The vegetables are not organic, but we are cultivating them in an environmentally friendly way and not using any antibiotics,” explains Jongdo Lim, managing director of the ranch. Lim adds that the farm is also growing romaine lettuce, asparagus, melons, passion fruit and blueberries, but “not for the flight kitchens. We’re testing these out, and for now are selling them for retail.”


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