U.S. beef, pork gaining acceptance in S. Korea

by Bryan Salvage
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DENVER — An intensified marketing campaign promoting U.S. beef and pork is building positive momentum and increasing market share in South Korea, according to Philip Seng, U.S. Meat Export Federation president and chief executive, who has just returned from a trip there.

"The environment there is improving as far as access for U.S. beef," he said. "Our market share today in South Korea, which a lot of people today would not believe, is 25% of the imported beef market. Australia has dropped down to 58%; New Zealand is down to about 15%. So, we are making inroads into that market.

"It’s not as fast as producers and exporters would like it to be, but I can tell you from our competitions’ standpoint they are acknowledging and recognizing the fact we’re very much in that market and increasing at a dramatic rate.

"The inventory levels are down to where they’re supposed to be," Mr. Seng continued. "It has been cut in half, frankly, from what it was at its peak. So, this is allowing for more chilled beef to go over into that market. Where we made inroads last year was into retail; now we’re starting to see ourselves much more in the foodservice market and that accounts for 65% of the imported products. We see this as being very encouraging for us down the road."

U.S.M.E.F. has also intensified its marketing of U.S. pork in South Korea in an effort to make U.S. pork a year-round entrée. Mr. Seng said he sees positive momentum for U.S. pork, as well.

"One of the things we’re always trying to do at U.S.M.E.F. is try to make the U.S. a primary supplier as opposed to a residual supplier," he said. "That’s one of the things were doing with intensified promotions going on in South Korea. There are a whole array of things we’re doing from recipe development to our web sites to intensified promotions in the stores. The idea is to have placement 100% of the time and that presence is everything as far as marketing.

There are about 25 countries trying to export pork to South Korea, Mr. Seng said. "We have a 30% market share," he said. "We’re the largest supplier to South Korea and we’re starting to see that market pick up — and that should lead us right into the Chinese New Year, as well. So, it looks good for the next couple of months in South Korea."

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