Introducing new products and sharing information about the potential profitability of U.S. processed pork, USMEF conducted a series of seminars for the Korean foodservice sector. Funded by the USDA Market Access Program (MAP) and the National Pork Board, a total of four seminars were held in Seoul, each designed as small group sessions featuring product information and tastings.
Elly Sung, USMEF senior marketing manager for Korea, opened the seminars with background information on U.S. processed pork brands and available items. Sung focused on pre-packaged products that improve efficiency, included chilled and sliced items that were unfamiliar to most Korean foodservice businesses.
“Some items were imported by USMEF to Korea for the first time, specifically for these seminars,” noted Sung.
Three major exporters – Hormel, Sugardale and Johnsonville – supplied U.S. products, including pulled pork, sliced ham, St. Louis-style pork ribs, sliced pepperoni, sausages and various styles of bacon.
A tasting session featuring these U.S. pork items was based on menus developed by Jisoo Kang, a professional cooking instructor in Korea. Kang offered her opinion on the flavor and convenience of the items and shared menu ideas with participants. Supply information was provided by importers and distributors invited to the seminars by USMEF.
“According to the professionals who attended the seminars, the most popular U.S. pork items were sliced shoulder bacon, fully cooked bacon and sliced ham,” said Jihae Yang, USMEF director in Korea. “Those items either hadn’t been introduced or had very little exposure to the Korean market before these seminars.”
USMEF provided attendees with sample packages consisting of the U.S. processed pork items introduced at the seminar – a move that allowed them to test the products in their company kitchens and discuss menu possibilities with their own chefs.
Foodservice companies participating included Marriot Hotels, Subway, E-Land restaurants and several pizza chains.
“Lifestyle changes in Korea have created a demand for time-saving and cost-saving meals and snacks,” said Yang. “This means the need for efficient, economical meat products is growing, so we designed these processed pork introduction seminars to provide practical information and menu ideas that restaurant chains can easily adapt to their businesses. Our goal is to first introduce the products, then work to develop and grow the market.”