Avocado imports to Korea shoot up

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Avocado imports to Korea shoot up


Just a decade ago, avocados were extremely hard to find in Korea. Their mushy texture and subtle flavor didn’t really appeal to Korean tastes at the time and there was very little demand for the fruit.

With the rising interest in healthy lifestyles, however, avocados have now become one of the most popular fruits in Korea. The burgeoning popularity of high-end restaurants that often use avocado as an ingredient has also raised the fruit’s profile across the country.

Avocado imports to Korea jumped up by more than six times from 2010 to 2016 and the uptrend is expected to continue.

In 2010, 457 tons of avocados were imported, according to data from the Korea Customs Service. In 2016, the figure increased to 2,915 tons.

Discount chain Lotte Mart said avocado sales at its Vic Market, a warehouse-based retail platform, reflect the growing popularity.

In the first half of 2015, avocados ranked 11th in terms of sales in Vic Market’s fruit section. In the first half of 2016 they climbed up to 10th place. This year they jumped to sixth with a 36.1 percent year-on-year increase in sales. Oranges have been the most popular fruit for three straight years, followed by bananas in second place.

Riding on the popularity, Lotte’s Vic Market is now selling frozen, cubed, Peru-cultivated avocados at 13,990 won ($12.37) per 1-kg (2.2) bag. The company says the price is 15 percent lower than those cultivated in America.

The pre-peeled product will come in handy when making salads or juice, the company says.

“Avocados are now widely used as a core ingredient in diverse dishes,” said a Lotte Vic Market official. “Its popularity has led us to sell a frozen version so consumers can enjoy them through the year,” the official added.

Avocados have been listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s most nutritious fruit. They contain 11 types of vitamin including vitamins A and B1 as well as a good dose of minerals.

BY JIN EUN-SOO [jin.eunsoo@joongang.co.kr]
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