Last month South Korea’s imports of U.S. beef surpassed Australian beef imports for the first time since 2003. According to data from the Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, 2,527 metric tons (mt) of U.S. beef were imported in May versus 2,475 mt of Australian beef.
The news of U.S. beef’s “comeback” drew widespread coverage in Korea’s business and consumer media, including such outlets as Business Korea, Arirang News, Yonhap News, Hankook Ilbo, Asia Times, The Gyeong-gi Shinmun, Incheon Ilbo, New Daily, Kyonggi Broadcast, Today Korea, Woman Economy, TBS, A-News, News Can, E Central News and Sidae Ilbo.
Several outlets noted that U.S. beef has achieved these gains despite a disparity in price, driven by large levels of Australian beef production and compounded by the weak Australian dollar.
“Considering the fact that U.S. beef is currently more expensive than Australian beef, industry watchers believe that it is just a matter of time that U.S. beef takes the top position,” reported Business Korea.
The news reports also cited an increasing level of consumer confidence in the safety of U.S. beef. In recent consumer surveys conducted by USMEF, more than 50 percent of respondents indicated that they intend to purchase U.S. beef, compared to positive responses in the single digits when the market first reopened in 2008.
Through April, U.S. beef/beef variety meat exports to Korea were 4 percent ahead of last year’s pace in volume (38,828 mt) and up 8 percent in value to $277.2 million.