Franchise Business Expo Attracts Thousands of Korean Restaurateurs
Korean restaurateurs sample U.S. beef cuts at the Korean Franchise Business Expo in Seoul
U.S. beef was a popular attraction at the Korean Franchise Business Expo, a twice-yearly event held recently in Seoul. USMEF’s participation in the event was made possible through support from the Beef Checkoff Program and the USDA Market Access Program (MAP).
The Franchise Business Expo is Korea’s largest and most established exhibition specifically targeting franchise owners, and more than half of the franchise brands participating were restaurant chains or other food-related businesses. The three-day event attracted more than 30,000 attendees from across the country, with about 60 percent identifying themselves as current or prospective restaurant owners.
For USMEF, this exhibition provides particularly strong access to owners of small steakhouses, Korean barbecue restaurants and butcher shops. While visitors to the USMEF booth were treated to samples of U.S. beef products currently popular with Korean consumers, USMEF also used the opportunity to introduce alternative beef cuts that fit emerging Korean culinary trends – including top sirloin butt cap, clod heart, lifter meat (rib cap plate), cheek meat, chuck tender and tri tip. Customers were also given guidance on how to merchandise these items in the Korean foodservice market.
“Small business owners who attend the Korean Franchise Business Expo are innovative entrepreneurs looking for ways to expand their customer base,” said Jihae Yang, USMEF-Korea director. “They are interested in new cuts, recipes, pricing strategies – anything that will broaden the appeal of their menu and give them a competitive advantage.”
Yang explained that as restaurants’ cost burdens increase due to rising prices for conventional barbecue items, USMEF has stepped up its efforts to introduce alternative cuts and propose new menu ideas. Upcoming seminars in Seoul and Pusan will be heavily focused on alternative cuts.
U.S. beef exports to South Korea were very strong in 2014. Through November, beef/beef variety meat exports totaled 107,147 metric tons (mt), up 14 percent from a year ago. Export value was up 44 percent to $762.8 million.