South Korea’s fruit imports reached an all-time high last year as Korean consumers seek for more variety such as of avocadoes and mangoes, data showed Monday.
According to data by Korea Customs Service on Monday, Korea imported a record 834,000 tons of fruits worth $1.24 billion last year. Over the first seven months of this year, the country’s fruit imports already reached $1 billion, up 7.6 percent from the same period a year ago.
Demand for avocadoes, in particular, increased significantly in the past decade thanks to growing interest in more healthy diets, experts noted.
Korea’s imports of avocadoes jumped 1,458.3 percent from 2008 to $30 million last year or 1,115.5 percent to 6,000 tons, data showed. Avocado imports reached $33 million in the January-July period, surpassing already the amount of last year’s total.
Imports of mangoes reached $50 million last year, up 701.2 percent from 2008, or 13,000 tons, up 755.4 percent over the same period. Experts noted that the surge comes on growing popularity of mango-based drinks including smoothies and juices as well as desserts.
Imports of cherries also reached $160 million last year, up from $30 million in 2008. The volume also jumped from 3,000 tons to 16,000 tons over the same period amid increasing shipments from Australia after a bilateral free trade agreement between Australia and Korea came into force in 2014.
Banana has been the most popular import fruit in Korea over the last decade with imports last year jumping to $370 million from $150 million in 2008, or 43.7 billion tons from 25.8 billion tons over the same period.
The customs agency said that origins of bananas have been shifted from the Philippines to other regions such as Ecuador as local importers diversify their import base after the price of bananas skyrocketed in the Southeast Asian country due to crop damage from a typhoon in 2012.
By Kim In-oh and Lee Eun-joo
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