Working to further increase utilization of U.S. pork as a raw material in South Korea, USMEF led a team of Korean processors to the 2017 U.S. Meat Processing Seminar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Funded by the Pork Checkoff, the two-day training included representatives from five different Korean processing companies who were presented detailed information on U.S. pork’s superior quality, flavor and palatability for processed meat products.
The timing of the seminar was important, noted Jihae Yang, USMEF director in South Korea.
“With the strong consumer demand for convenience foods in Korea, the processed meat market has steadily increased all across the country,” said Yang. “Domestic pork and U.S. pork are currently the most popular choices as raw material for Korea’s processed meat products, and interest in U.S. pork remains high. We continue to try to introduce new companies to U.S. pork and strengthen our relationships with existing customers. Among exporting countries, the U.S. truly stands out by providing this kind of technical support to Korean meat buyers.”
The Wisconsin seminar began with a U.S. red meat industry overview and was followed by sessions on meat quality and food safety. Several demonstrations on technical issues involved in meat processing were given, and participants were allowed to ask questions about each specific step in the process.
Important to the Korean team, Yang said, was the fact that the seminar included not only practical lessons but also demonstrated to the Korean processors ways they can improve their finished products.
After the seminar, the team visited the Triumph Foods processing plant in St. Joseph, Missouri, where they were able to see some of the final steps of U.S. pork production. During the tour, state-of-the-art facilities that were recently built to further improve quality and efficiency were introduced and explained. Managers also emphasized that this plant – as well as the new Seaboard Triumph Foods plant in Sioux City, Iowa – has a consistent supply of pork, which is a key factor in raw material buyers’ decision-making.
The team also visited Moon Ridge Foods in Pleasant Hope, Missouri. The plant was newly revamped to meet evolving consumer demands with unique pork products that some larger companies are unable to provide.
“Managers at Moon Ridge emphasized how they cooperate with hog suppliers and search for premium breeding, for which the Korean team members expressed appreciation,” said Yang. “What the processors in Korea are looking for is consumer loyalty, and U.S. pork can certainly be helpful in achieving that goal.”
To illustrate the diverse range of processed meat products available in the U.S., the team was also taken on retail visits to Walmart and Hy-Vee supermarkets.