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A new contract will allow Florida Citrus’ reach to expand in South Korea.

BARTOW, Fla. – The Florida Citrus Commission approved a contract with a South Korean marketing agency Wednesday morning, paving the way to increase sales of Fresh Florida Grapefruit and 100% Florida Orange Juice in the country.

Commissioners awarded a 1-year, $300,000 contract to Seoul-based Sohn’s Market Makers, a trade representative and marketing agency that works with U.S. commodity organizations. Its clients include the California Walnut Commission, U.S. Potato Board and the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council.

Initial efforts will focus on fresh grapefruit, of which exports increased 30 percent last season. A move to market Florida Orange Juice and Grapefruit Juice could soon follow, said Michael Schadler, director of international marketing at the Florida Department of Citrus.

“We hope to quickly expand the reach of Florida Citrus in a country that has demonstrated a growing desire for our premium products,” Schadler said.

While South Korea has been an export market for Florida Grapefruit for many years, falling tariffs as a result of the U.S. and Korea trade pact buoyed sales in recent seasons. Fresh Florida Grapefruit exports to South Korea are up more than 400 percent since 2007.

Florida Orange Juice exports to South Korea have also been on the rise, increasing from three million gallons in 2011 to more than 16 million gallons last year.

Sohn’s Market Makers will be responsible for expanding distribution and consumption of Florida Grapefruit throughout South Korea. Its duties will include managing marketing, public relations, retail and foodservice programs, advertising, market research and social media assets.

Approved during a vote at Wednesday’s FCC board meeting, the contract begins Aug. 1.

About the Florida Citrus Commission

The Florida Citrus Commission is the governing board of the Florida Department of Citrus, an executive agency of the Florida government charged with the marketing, research and regulation of the Florida citrus industry. The commission is a nine-member board appointed by the governor to represent citrus growers, processors and packers. FDOC activities are funded by a tax paid by growers on each box of citrus that moves through commercial channels. The industry employs nearly 76,000 people and provides an annual economic impact close to $9 billion to the state.