Cherries are emerging as the best-selling imported fruit thanks to the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement, which went into effect in March.
Cherry prices have been lowered markedly as the FTA eliminated a 24 percent tariff imposed on the fruit. A bumper harvest in the U.S. has also helped pull down the prices, resulting in them outselling bananas.
According to the Seoul Agricultural and Marine Products Corp., the wholesale price for top-grade cherries stood at W64,000 for 5kg as of June 29, down 30 percent from W92,000 during the same period last year (US$1=W1,146). In contrast, imported high-quality bananas remained stable at W22,500 per 13 kg.
Last month, Lotte Mart saw demand for cherries swell 192.5 percent on-year to account for 36 percent of its total sales of imported fruit, surpassing bananas (34.3 percent) for the first time. Last year, cherries accounted for just 12.9 percent.
Including home-grown fruit, cherries ranked third overall by sales after watermelons and oriental melons, up from 8th last year.
E-Mart and Homeplus also saw their cherry sales surge 88 percent and 76.9 percent, respectively, on-year in June.