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USMEF Hosts Korean Beef, Pork Buyers Team

Published: Oct 27, 2011
A team of South Korean meat buyers representing several of the country’s largest retailers participated in a USMEF-guided visit to the United States recently to see all aspects of the U.S. beef and pork industries.

Representatives of E-Mart (Korea’s largest retail chain operating 135 stores in Korea) and Home Plus (123 stores in Korea) joined GS Retail and seven other leading retailers for the comprehensive U.S. red meat industry tour to cultivate the buyers’ knowledge of potential American suppliers and to reinforce their confidence in the quality of U.S. products.

The visit included meetings with suppliers of both U.S. pork and beef, a tour of the Agricultural Research and Development Center (ARDEC) at Colorado State University, a visit to a cattle feedlot, briefings by USMEF’s Denver staff, and foodservice and retail tours. The response from the visiting team was overwhelmingly positive.

“It was a great opportunity to see the whole spectrum of U.S. beef production and understand why U.S. beef is differentiated from other competitors in terms of specification and quality,” said Guibeom Kim of Korea’s GS Retail chain. “This trip provided good and clear reasons for us to boost U.S. beef purchases and will also help me to aggressively address any consumer concerns regarding U.S. beef.”

The comments from Top Mart executive Youngjae Cho were equally encouraging.

“The efforts by the U.S. pork industry to improve quality through selection of genetics, high tech slaughtering process such as CO2 stunning, blast chilling and selection of pork carcass for export was very impressive,” he said. “As a retailer selling U.S. pork for the last four years, this trip serves as the opportunity to think about more aggressive marketing programs and launching various new chilled pork items.”

South Korea is a key market for both U.S. beef and pork, and solidifying relations with buyers at the nation’s largest retailers is an important step toward building confidence among consumers and other retailers.

“Nothing can substitute for seeing an American farm or ranch and touring a processing plant to give a meat buyer the added reassurance they need that U.S. pork and beef are top-quality and high-value products,” said Jihae Yang, USMEF-Korea director who personally accompanied the team to the United States. The visiting team was supported through funding from the Beef Checkoff, Pork Checkoff and USDA Market Access Program (MAP).

Through the first eight months of 2011, South Korea is the fourth-largest market for U.S. pork exports, buying 146,627 metric tons (323.3 million pounds) valued at $374.5 million – increases of 142 percent and 192 percent over last year, respectively.

Korea also ranks as the fourth-largest beef export market. So far in 2011, it has purchased 110,017 metric tons (242.5 million pounds) valued at $485.6 million, increases of 49 percent and 41 percent, respectively.