South Koreans go nuts for macadamias after Korean Air rage saga

Anger over macadamias ended the career of a Korean Air Lines executive last week and embarrassed her family and country. But now, South Korean retailers are experiencing an unexpected upside: a boom in sales of the nuts.

SEOUL // Anger over macadamias ended the career of a Korean Air Lines executive last week and embarrassed her family and country. But now, South Korean retailers are experiencing an unexpected upside: a boom in sales of the nuts.

The macadamia nut was unfamiliar to many South Koreans until Cho Hyun-ah, the daughter of Korean Air’s chairman, ordered a steward to be deplaned from a December 5 flight after she was served the nuts in a bag, instead of on a plate.

Last week, Ms Cho resigned from all of her posts at the carrier, including head of cabin service, amid a storm of criticism. But macadamias are now a household name in South Korea and with curiosity about their taste piqued, sales are booming.

Auction, a South Korean unit of eBay and South Korea’s second-largest shopping website, said yesterday that sales of macadamias had surged nearly 12-fold during the previous five days without any promotions. It said macadamias previously made up 5 per cent of its nut sales but were now accounting for almost half.

South Korea’s largest online shopping retailer, Gmarket, also owned by eBay, said Macadamia nut sales increased 20-fold during the six days leading up to Sunday, compared with the previous week.

The website of e-commerce firm Coupang showed Mauna Loa macadamia nuts were out of stock, with about 100 users asking on the comments section for the product to be quickly restocked.

Ms Cho made a publicly apology last week. Her father also publicly apologised and said he should have raised her better.

* Associated Press

Published: December 15, 2014 04:00 AM

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