Australian grapes are back in demand across Korea, after a joint rebranding and promotional campaign helped convey the taste and quality of the fruit to consumers and wholesalers.
The need for the campaign - led by Austrade and Horticulture Innovation Australia (HIA) - arose after export sales of Thompson seedless grapes fell by more than 50 per cent to 256 tonnes in 2016 compared to 545 tonnes in 2015.
Amanda Hodges, Austrade’s Seoul-based Senior Trade Commissioner for Korea and Mongolia, said Australian green grapes are a premium product in terms of sweetness and freshness, yet Korean consumers hesitated to choose them because of their unique golden green colour compared with other green grapes.
“While experienced fruit importers recognised the quality of the Australian table grapes, they were not willing to pay a premium given their concerns,” said Ms Hodges.
“Local consumers tend to be particular about appearance, such as the shape and colour, when purchasing imported fruit, especially as Koreans have become accustomed to the colour and characteristics of the dominate Chilean table grapes imported since 2004.
“To address this, in partnership with HIA, we implemented a branding and education campaign regarding the taste and colour differences of Australian grapes, to help build market profile and secure Australia as a premium supplier.”
Ripe and delicious looking
After extensive research, Thompson seedless grapes were rebranded to “TAMS GOLD” – a combination of Korean and English words, "Tams-rubda" and "Gold". The Korean word "Tams-rubda" means attractive, nice and ripe and delicious-looking.
“TAMS GOLD” grapes are generally available in Korea from December to April. Due to Australia’s proximity, fresh premium quality grapes can be delivered in shorter shipping times relative to Australia’s competitors.
Jeff Scott, Australian Table Grape Association (ATGA) CEO, said it was important to introduce the different forms and colours of Thompson Seedless grapes.
“We needed to educate the Korean consumer, and wholesaler, to say the yellowy golden colour of the Thompson’s is because they are sweeter. Korea is usually a country that also buys by sight, not by taste,” said Mr Scott.
Well received by buyers
The "TAMS GOLD" grapes branding name launch, sponsored by HIA, was held last month and well received by key fresh produce importers, top-tier retailers and wholesalers who attended the event.
This was followed up with several instore promotions during May with key retailers like Hyundai Department Store, which has 15 stores across Korea and is one of three major department retail chains.
Under Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement (KAFTA), the import duty on Australian grapes has been reduced from 45 per cent down to six per cent this year, and will be eliminated by 2018.
Korea is Australia’s fourth-largest trading partner and third largest export market. KAFTA is helping to create a competitive advantage for Australian exporters on a range of products.
You can find out the applicable tariffs for any imports or exports to South Korea at https://ftaportal.dfat.gov.au.