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USMEF-Korea Reaches Influential Nutritionist Group

Published: Aug 09, 2012
An influential group of 5,000 nutritionists gathered for informational sessions recently in Seoul for the Korean Dietetic Association’s Food & Kitchen Equipment Exhibition. U.S. beef and pork were there for the sampling as USMEF-Korea met with many of the nutritionists to brief them on products some were unfamiliar with.

USMEF surveys of 1,500 Korean nutritionists showed that perceptions of American beef and pork are overall positive, and most of those surveyed said that they would buy the products for their personal use. Funding for the initiative was provided through the USDA Market Access Program (MAP), the Beef Checkoff Program and the Pork Checkoff.

Only about 10 percent of American pork sold in Korea goes through the retail sector while the balance is purchased for processing or use in the hotel/restaurant/institutional sector. As a result, many of the nutritionists surveyed were not aware that U.S. pork is imported into Korea, but nearly two-thirds indicated they would purchase it.

“This is an important and influential audience,” said Jihae Yang, USMEF-Korea director. “While Korean government policy currently requires that domestic beef be purchased for schools, many of these nutritionists work for private companies and hospitals and play a key role in purchasing decisions.”

This was the first time USMEF has participated in the Korean Dietetic Association’s annual program since U.S. beef was barred from the market after the 2003 BSE finding in the United States. Learning that the majority of the participants held positive opinions regarding American red meat was an important outcome.

“This was a good opportunity to introduce U.S. beef and pork to many of these nutritionists after a long absence,” said Yang. “With the information we gathered through our survey and one-on-one meetings, we can better target our nutritional information and educational activities going forward.”

South Korea is a key market for both U.S. beef and pork exports. Through the first five months of 2012, Korea has purchased 77,790 metric tons (171.5 million pounds) of American pork valued at $222.8 million. It also has purchased 58,143 metric tons (128.2 million pounds) of U.S. beef valued at $273.1 million. It is the No. 4 market for U.S. beef exports when measured by value and the No. 5 pork market.