South Korea's three major discount retailers, E-Mart, Home Plus and Lotte Mart, will resume sales of U.S. beef on Thanksgiving Day in Seoul, announced the U.S. Meat Export Federation.
The retail chains have issued a joint press release announcing the decision and explaining that it is due in part to the slow economy and daily financial difficulties facing Koreans. The companies stated that their sales of U.S. beef will provide value and convenience, as well as help stabilize consumer prices. They added that there is no longer any reason for them not to carry price-competitive U.S. beef.
The timing of this week's large retailer re-launch is expected to lead other retail and restaurant chains to feature U.S. beef before the lunar New Year peak consumption period in late January. USMEF estimates that 40,000 metric tons (88.2 million pounds) of U.S. beef is currently stockpiled in Korea. This is equivalent to approximately two months of supply at the consumption rates that prevailed prior to the market closing to U.S. beef in December 2003.
Once the third-largest market for U.S. beef, Korea imported about $816 million in beef and beef variety meats in 2003 – the last year the market was fully open. At the time, this represented about 21 percent of the worldwide value of all U.S. beef exports.
Source: U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF)