Optimal Environment for Production…Huge Daily Temperature Range and Basin Topography
Advancing to the US, Canada, Vietnam, Japan, and China…Export Goal of KRW10 Billion
From olden times, Sangju in North Gyeongsang Province has been called the home of the three whites―rice, silkworm, and dried persimmon (gotgam in Korean). Among these three whites, dried persimmon is the most famous. Sangju produces approximately 65 percent of the entire volume of dried persimmons in Korea. Sangju’s dried persimmon is renowned for such a high quality and sweetness that in ancient times it was served to kings. In contrast to other regions, 90 percent of the persimmons cultivated in Sangju are of the dungsi variety, whose name reflects the round shape of the fruit. Sangju dried persimmon has recently been exported to the US. Eight tons of the product, worth KRW140 million, were shipped to the American market for the first time this year on January 5. Following the successful entry to the US, efforts are being made to export the dried persimmon to other countries including Canada, Vietnam, Japan, and China. Leading the endeavor is Sangju Gotgam Distribution Center and Farming Corporation (hereafter, Sangju Gotgam).
Sandy Soil and Huge Daily Temperature Range Make Sangju an Optimal Place for Producing Dried Persimmon
Sangju dried persimmon owes its fame to the geographical conditions of the area, which are favorable for the growth of persimmon trees and the production of the dried fruit. Sangju is located in a basin that is elevated in the western part and gradually lowers toward the southeast. The topography is advantageous for the natural dehydration of persimmons. Further, the clean waters of the Nakdong River and sandy soil, where the sand and soil are mixed half and half, provide a good drainage that allows persimmon trees to grow well.
Sangju can produce approximately 7,000 tons of dried persimmons per year. That is 65 percent of the nationwide production. The dungsi variety, which makes up 90 percent of the fruit used to produce dried persimmons in Sangju, requires about 10 days longer than other varieties to dry naturally. The longer drying period results in a chewier and softer texture.
Sangju Gotgam at the Vanguard of Exporting Sangju Dried Persimmon
Established with the investments of some 450 Sangju dried persimmon farmers, Sangju Gotgam is the largest farming association in the area. This year, it is making full efforts to export the product overseas in order to offset the domestic price drop caused by higher production volume and thereby increase the farms’ incomes. The corporation drastically raised the amount of dried persimmon it purchases from farmers from KRW3 billion last year to KRW20 billion this year. It is planning to export about half of that volume for the amount of KRW10 billion. Sangju Gotgam succeeded in exporting eight tons of dried persimmons, which is equivalent to KRW140 million, to the US market this year. All the products in this pioneering effort were packed apiece so that they maintained the proper degree of sweetness and moisture content and retained the original color and glossiness of the Sangju dried persimmon. The export price of the dried persimmon is KRW600 per unit. Sangju Gotgam is seeing a great potential in dried persimmon exports as not only the US but also other countries―Canada, Vietnam, Singapore, Japan, and China―are demonstrating a big interest in the product.
Aiming to Win the Game with the Best Quality Product…Top-Notch Facilities, Including Ripening Room
Sangju Gotgam has prepared to export the best quality product by equipping itself with cutting-edge facilities―a ripening room, a sorting machine, a packing room, and cold storage. The facilities are rated as the best in Korea for dried persimmon. Sangju Gotgam purchases from the farmers only high-quality persimmons with the sweetness of 45°Bx or higher, 33 to 38 percent water content, and a good color and gloss. Further, for the hygienic production with no dust during processing, the corporation has separated the box packing facility. Mr. Shin Kyung-jae, team manager of Sangju Gotgam, says, “We are proud to have the most up-to-date dried persimmon facilities in Korea.” He added that Sangju Gotgam will continue to export the best-quality dried persimmons by thorough procurement of the fruit and processing in the sophisticated facilities.
Jeon Yong-ha, CEO of Sangju Gotgam
“We will Further Increase the Quality and Competitiveness of the Product by Focusing on Sweetness and Water Content”
Mr. Jeon is positive about the prospects of exporting Sangju dried persimmons to China. He says, “There is a big potential for exports to China. Last year, when Sangju Gotgam products were displayed at an event in China, local buyers and consumers demonstrated a keen interest in the dried persimmon.” The local upper middle class, in particular, is looking for Korean dried persimmon because the Chinese products, though inexpensive, often lack food safety.
Mr. Jeon plans to further increase the quality of the exported products. Despite the burden of packaging material costs, the corporation will pack each fruit individually and also focus on maintaining the sweetness and water content of the dried persimmons.
Mr. Jeon says, “The price of dried persimmon this year is about 30 percent lower compared to the price last year because the production amount rose due to the favorable weather conditions. The price drop is causing difficulties for the farmers and we hope to expand our exports to relieve the farmers of those difficulties. Sangju Gotgam exported about eight tons of dried persimmons last year. We’ll make continued efforts to achieve an export goal set for this year.”
Efficacies of Dried Persimmon
Dried persimmon is known to contain about 16 times more vitamin A than the fresh fruit. It also boasts twice the amount of vitamin C found in apples and ten times that in pears. Moreover, dried persimmon is rich in dietary fiber, which is believed to prevent intestine-related diseases including colorectal cancer.
Further, dried persimmon has a tannin component, which, according to ancient records, can bind the bowels and help stop coughing and bleeding.
How to Store Dried Persimmon
Dried persimmon should be kept frozen. But, before putting it into a freezer, it is recommended to divide the fruits into small amounts you can eat at once and insert each portion into an airtight plastic container so the fruit retains the original taste and color of the dried persimmon. You can also pack the product with plastic bags laid in layers instead of plastic containers. When you take the dried persimmon out from the freezer, leave it at room temperature for about five minutes and it will become tender again.
Inquiries SangJu GotGam Distribution Center and Farming Corporation Tel +82-54-536-0907