To promote U.S. pork spare ribs in the Korean market and make progress toward displacing European back ribs, USMEF sponsored a segment on one of South Korea’s most popular home shopping television networks. Funding support for the program, which stressed the tenderness and flavor of U.S. pork, was provided by the USDA Market Access Program (MAP) and the Pork Checkoff.
Home shopping networks are extremely popular in Korea, as consumers regularly tune in to purchase a variety of goods, including food. Pork products from other regions are commonly seen on the shopping channels, but U.S. pork was rarely featured due to the difficulty of meeting price targets set by the networks. In the past, processed pork products – mostly hams and sausages from various origins – were featured on the networks because of this price sensitivity.
But late last year USMEF partnered with John Cook Delimeat, a Korean meat company, to produce a “special barbecue item” segment that was highlighted on the Lotte Home Shopping Channel.
“Korean consumers are most familiar with back ribs because they suit Korean-style barbecue dishes well and back ribs are manageable in size,” explained Junil Park, USMEF-Korea marketing manager. “EU back ribs had dominated, but spare ribs are new to Korean consumers. Because they are meatier, the company selected U.S. spare ribs for this launch with their special recipe.”
USMEF assisted John Cook Delimeat in the production of video clips for the television feature. Choi Yu Ra, a home shopping network celebrity, co-hosted the program with Kim Ho Yoon, a well-known Korean chef who provided demonstrations of the many uses of U.S. pork spare ribs. The hosts divided spare ribs into three pieces: bottom, middle and front, with the specific taste, texture and tenderness of each part being fully illustrated. To highlight their convenience, the hosts explained that properly cooked U.S. spare ribs can be reheated and enjoyed later, using a microwave oven, conventional oven or grill.
The response from the home shopping network audience was outstanding. Despite a relatively high price compared to other pork items featured on the network, all 5,000 sets of U.S. spare ribs prepared for the TV segment were sold before it ended.