USMEF addresses challenges for U.S. beef in Korea

by Editor fleischwirtschaft.com
Tuesday, October 21, 2008

U.S. beef continues to face a challenging environment in South Korea even as U.S. pork posts gains in that market, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

A USMEF senior leadership team led by President and CEO Phil Seng recently met with Korean distributors, wholesalers, retailers and industry consultants. USMEF reported that despite the availability from importers and distributors of a range of both chilled and frozen U.S. beef cuts, key large discounters have not yet announced plans to restart U.S. beef sales.

On the positive side, USMEF believes that several thousand traditional Korean butcher shops that specialise in imported meats now stock some U.S. beef. In addition, the number of Korean short rib or "kalbi" houses that sell U.S. beef is increasing, despite new rules requiring outlets to indicate the country-of-origin of the beef products served.

However, traders noted that to date the velocity of import arrivals is far exceeding sales into the market, leading to a growing stockpile of U.S. beef. USMEF estimated that the current pace of product arrivals and port clearance may be exceeding the sales velocity by a factor of three or more. USMEF cited developments outside the U.S. meat industry including food safety issues such as dioxin in Chilean pork and the dramatic decline of the value of Korean currency, the won, as posing particular challenges for U.S. exporters.
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