Positioning U.S. beef to capitalize on rapidly growing demand for convenience foods in South Korea, USMEF partnered with the country’s second-largest retailer to launch a pair of home meal replacement (HMR) kits that feature chop steak and short plate as centerpieces. Funded by the Beef Checkoff Program, the launch followed successful introductions of other single-portioned U.S. beef steak items in the Korean market. USMEF is a subcontractor to the Beef Checkoff.
Homeplus, which operates hypermarkets, supermarkets and an online shopping service, recently debuted a kit with chop steak from U.S. beef chuck eye roll and a kit with U.S. beef short plate in a bean sprout stir fry. Priced at 7,990 won (about $7) and 6,990 won (about $6), respectively, the kits both sold very well over a monthlong launch period.
Jihae Yang, USMEF director in Korea, credited the launch’s success to USMEF’s marketing strategy in the region.
“Food products offered in Korea’s retail sector are changing fast, as the number of single-person households and double-income families are rapidly increasing,” said Yang. “Lifestyle changes affected by a 52-hour work week system and consumption trends such as ‘Honbob’ or ‘Honsool’ (‘Eat alone’ or ‘Drink alone’) are impacting the meat business across all sectors. At the same time, per capita meat consumption continues to grow in Korea thanks to a favorable trade environment and expanding incomes.”
Yang noted that at USMEF’s U.S. Meat Market Seminar in mid-March, speaker MyungHwan Kim, director of the Agricultural Administrative Strategy Division of the GSnJ Institute in Seoul, predicted that Korea’s beef imports will continue to increase, in part because of increasing demands from the foodservice sector and the popularity of HMR products. Kim cited an industry report projecting that the market size of HMR alone is expected to soon reach 3.8 trillion won ($3.34 billion) and could experience more than 20% annual growth in coming years.
Yang said USMEF will continue to team with retailers to develop U.S. beef dishes that fit well with HMR needs.
“Korean consumers enjoy U.S. beef in traditional meal settings and in a variety of ways, so it’s important for us to follow the dining trends closely and adapt to make sure U.S. beef is always a top option,” she said.