Audio: USMEF-Korea Director Discusses Record Year for U.S. Beef

Click to play audio file

With December results still to be reported, U.S. beef exports to South Korea already set a new value record in 2016 of $929.3 million, and will break $1 billion when year-end results are final.

In the attached audio report, Jihae Yang, U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) director in Korea, discusses some of the factors behind this performance. She explains that while Korean supermarket chains were once reluctant to feature U.S. beef, they are now adding more and more chilled U.S. beef cuts to their meat cases. U.S. steaks, barbecue cuts and high-end burgers are also rapidly gaining popularity with restaurant patrons in Korea.

While beef safety is still a sensitive issue in Korea, Yang says U.S. beef promotions are now able to focus more on product quality and consumer enjoyment.


Joe Schuele: 2016 was a remarkable year for U.S. beef exports to South Korea. With one month’s results still to be reported, export value had already set a new record of nearly $930 million, up 25 percent from the previous year and will break $1 billion when the year’s results are final. In this U.S. Meat Export Federation report, USMEF Korea Director Jihae Yang explains the growing popularity of U.S. beef with both supermarket and restaurant consumers.

Jihae Yang: The major growth was on the foodservice and retail side. The retail sector is a great success for the year 2016 in terms of growth and the recovery of the U.S. beef market. They have been very reluctant to feature U.S. beef or increase the share of U.S. beef. But now they are enjoying the high profit and the high receptivity of Korean consumers and they are adding more and more U.S. chilled beef items into their regular chilled case. That’s the major driving force of the growth in the retail sector. In the foodservice sector, the dominating food trend is the steak and American barbecue. So people love to have the protein-based meal and I don’t think that trend will change in the short term. U.S. beef is a perfect fit for that kind of menu.

Joe Schuele: While beef safety is still an issue with Korean consumers, Yang says promotions can now focus more on product quality and consumer enjoyment.

Jihae Yang: Our communication goal is touching on the safety side in the beginning of the market penetration, and ultimately moving toward the product quality. And now we are enjoying the chance to talk about the product quality, focusing on the enjoyable experience for the Korean consumer.

Joe Schuele: For more on this and other trade issues, please visit For the U.S. Meat Export Federation, I’m Joe Schuele.