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USMEF-South Korea Hosts Iowa Trade Mission

Published: Jun 10, 2011
A group of influential journalists representing South Korea’s livestock, retail and HRI (hotel, restaurant and institutional) trade media met with an Iowa agriculture delegation earlier this week to get a firsthand view of American producers, who are becoming increasingly important as Korea increases its reliance on imported foods.

Leon Sheets, president of Iowa Pork Producers Association, and Ed Greiman, president-elect of Iowa Cattleman's Association, gave presentations on Iowa’s pork and beef industries, as well as their own farms and production systems in a session coordinated by USMEF-South Korea and sponsored by the Iowa Corn Promotion Board and Iowa Pork Producers Association. Both speakers emphasized the sustainability of Iowa livestock production and delivered a message about the quality of Iowa beef and pork.

“This was a great opportunity for Korean journalists to hear directly from Iowa producers about their commitment to quality and food safety,” said Jihae Yang, director of USMEF-South Korea. “Korea is a country with high food costs and a growing reliance on food grown or raised outside our country, so there is great value in developing a familiarity between Korean media and consumers and American producers.”

In their opening remarks, Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey stressed the importance of trade and expressed their desire for Iowa to continue to serve as an important trade partner with Korean in the future, particularly with the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement pending approval.

The Iowa team also visited one of Korea’s largest integrated food suppliers (meal provider/food material distribution/home meal replacement), Ourhome, to get firsthand knowledge of how the company utilizes U.S. pork. Ourhome currently imports about 1,000 metric tons (2.2 million pounds) of U.S. pork monthly.

Through the first four months of 2011, South Korea is the No. 2 importer of U.S. beef and the No. 3 importer of U.S. pork. Korea has purchased 65,754 metric tons (145 million pounds) of U.S. beef valued at $284 million this year, increases of 150 percent in volume and 153 percent in value over the same period in 2010.

U.S. pork exports to Korea this year total 97,357 metric tons (214.6 million pounds) valued at $239.8 million, increases of 187 percent in volume and 245 percent in value.