Faster, sweeter, smaller… The season of ‘spring fruit’ watermelon has already returned

In May, when the early heat is rampant, the watermelon season has arrived.

The fact that watermelon is a summer fruit in July and August remains unchanged, but the full-fledged watermelon distribution period has recently been moved forward from the end of April.

According to the distribution industry on the 22nd, large marts have been holding watermelon sales events since the end of April.

Citizens buying watermelons at a supermarket in Seoul. yunhap news

At the end of April, E-Mart held an event to sell 100,000 watermelons harvested in Hamam, Buyeo, and Nonsan for the first time this spring. Homeplus sells all types of watermelon at a discount through the ‘Watermelon Universe’ event until the 24th, including high-sugar watermelon, black honey watermelon, apple watermelon, and mango watermelon. Lotte Mart is also holding a 3,000 won discount event for all watermelon items (5 to 9 kg) for L Point members.

Since when did watermelon become a spring fruit?

Originally, house watermelons were distributed throughout the year, but prices were high and demand was not high during seasons other than summer.

However, as the summer heat in Korea has accelerated due to climate change, more and more people are looking for cool watermelons from spring. As demand follows, more farmers are trying to ship watermelons earlier.

Spring watermelon also has a high sugar content. This is because with the development of cultivation technology, farmers can produce watermelons that boast a similar sugar content and uniform quality to watermelons outdoors in midsummer.

The big diurnal temperature difference in spring also helps to make watermelon more delicious. An official from the fruit distribution industry said, “In summer, the morning and evening are hot and there is a rainy season, so the quality can deteriorate.” Usually, the high daily temperature difference increases the sugar content of fruits, so it seems that the sugar content of watermelons in the spring harvested recently is high.”

It is also affected by the fact that supermarkets have strictly managed sugar content in accordance with consumer preferences for ‘high sugar content’ watermelons.

An official from E-Mart said, “The product can be commercialized only after the measurement of the level of broken sugar at the farmhouse before harvest, automatic sorting after harvest (by tapping the watermelon to check for abnormalities), measuring the sugar content and weight of all watermelons through a machine, and testing the granularity of sugar.” The sugar content (Brix) is indicated on the label, so that customers can trust and choose it.”

Domestically grown watermelons are usually based on 10 brix or more, but recently, 11 brix or more are mainly sold in marts, and 12 brix or more are classified as ‘high sugar content’. Watermelons with a high sugar content of 12 to 13 bricks are sold at a high price of 20,000 to 30,000 won per barrel.

It is also beneficial for farmers to ship high-sugar content watermelons ahead of time.

Dr. Lee Ok-jin of the National Institute of Horticultural and Herbal Science said, “House watermelon cultivation technology has improved, making it possible to produce watermelons with high sugar content and even quality. In addition, the demand for watermelons has increased recently in the spring. Farmers seem to prefer growing watermelons in the spring.”

A recent trend that stands out is the small watermelon.

As the number of one- or two-person households increases, sales of large watermelons cut into halves or quarters, apple watermelons that open like gourds, and small watermelons that are slightly larger than a volleyball are increasing.

According to E-Mart, “Last year, the sales growth rate of other watermelons (apple watermelon, mango watermelon, etc.), including small watermelons, increased by 45% compared to the previous year, compared to 8.9% of regular watermelons.” .

As global logistics difficulties have been resolved due to the endemic era, watermelon exports have resumed. In Southeast Asia, watermelon is an inexpensive fruit, so it is not a highly competitive Korean product like strawberries or shine muscats, but there is steady demand from high-end department stores.

At the end of last month, Haman County, South Gyeongsang Province, exported 720 watermelons weighing 3kg by air. Haman-gun expects to export watermelons worth 120,000 dollars (about 150 million won) by the end of the year.

Korean watermelons with high sugar content are popular in Japan. A representative of a company that exports the most watermelons said, “Korea has a competitive edge in watermelons, as the fruits are expensive, and Japan has a lower watermelon sugar content standard than Korea, like 9 Brix.” I think it’s possible. When the logistics situation improves, we plan to resume exports to Mongolia, which prefers Korean fruits.”

Reporter Kim Hee-won [email protected]

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