Introducing a growing demographic of Korean consumers to the pairing of premium craft beer with processed pork items such as salami, prosciutto, sausage and bacon, USMEF organized a “U.S. Pork and The Booth Beer Pairing Night.”
More than 400 people applied for 40 invitations to participate in the event, which was funded by the National Pork Board. USMEF is a contractor of the National Pork Board.
A short video from the two nights of pairing beer with U.S. pork can be viewed here. The video, which appeared on GQ (Korea) Magazine’s social media pages, attracted more than 400,000 views over a two-week period.
The Booth, a brewing company started in a Seoul pizzeria in 2013, is considered a leader in Korea’s craft beer industry. Its motto “Follow Your Fun” has become popular with the country’s young professionals who prefer to dine out. To build interest in the pairing event, USMEF utilized The Booth’s social media channels and partnered with GQ.
“The strategy is to build upon our market share for processed pork in Korea , and one very good way to do that is to expand awareness of the quality of U.S. processed pork and demonstrate how it can matched with beer,” said Jihae Yang, USMEF director in Korea. “Many participants in this event said they initially thought processed pork items were only for wine, and that they were pleasantly surprised at the quality and flavor of the U.S. products and how good they tasted with beer.”
Yang noted that, like Americans, Koreans – especially those in their 30s and 40s – have shown an increasing desire to explore food and drink combinations beyond wine.
“As a result, beer and food pairings have become popular,” she said, adding that the beer market in Korean is growing – according to Korean Customs Service data, beer imports in the first three months of 2019 were valued at $72 million, a 4.5 percent increase from the fourth quarter of 2018. In 2018, total beer imports were $397 million, up from $263 million in 2017 and $142 million in 2015.
USMEF also organized a cooking contest on the second day featuring 24 well-known Chinese and international chefs.
The Booth hosted both nights of the U.S. pork promotion, with the first night featuring 20 food media and social media “influencers.” The second night’s invitees were consumers chosen by management of The Booth. USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom was in attendance on the second night of the event and gave opening remarks.
Tastings each night included Volpi salami and prosciutto, Oscar Mayer bacon, Johnsonville sausage and Citterio rosemary ham served with seven different craft beers brewed by The Booth. A sommelier from the brewery outlined each beer’s taste characteristics, highlighted the attributes of the U.S. processed pork items and explained why each item pairs well with certain kinds of beer.
After the tastings, USMEF offered ideas about how processed pork items can be served as either a main dish or side dish. Examples included grapes with bacon bits, salami cup salad, bacon salad with wasabi sauce, sausage tacos and salami chips with dipping sauce. Catering ideas with U.S. processed pork were also shared.
As it works to expand the market, giving Korean consumers more options for U.S. pork is a priority for USMEF, Yang said.
“When it comes to eating pork, most Koreans automatically think about grilling pork belly in a pan,” she explained. “But the country is getting more interested in different styles of pork. Charcuterie is becoming a staple for some ‘foodies,’ and stores specializing in it have appeared in the past year. With this change, people are opening up to other ways of consuming pork. Processed pork items paired with western-style drinks like beer and wine, alongside slices of cheese and fruit, are an example of this trend.”