Meat Exports to South Korea Performing Well in 2014

Recent lift on zilpaterol ban makes more beef eligible for import into the country, Reuters reports.

Meat exports to South Korea continue to return top numbers for 2014, the U.S. Meat Export Federation says, with pork also posting strong gains.

Beef exports to Korea in the first half of the year totaled 56,478 metric tons – up 11% from a year ago – valued at nearly $380 million, up 40%.

USMEF's Dan Halstrom, senior vice president for marketing and communications, says confidence among customers is much higher, though there is still a contingent in Korea that remains concerned about BSE.

"One of the things that we're doing to combat this misperception as to the safety and quality of U.S. beef is to focus on the branded beef," Halstrom said. "We have everything from large guys promoting their top-choice brands to smaller members promoting American Wagyu brands."

According to Reuters, South Korea's recent lifting of its ban on the feed additive zilpaterol will also make more beef eligible for import. Approved levels for the drug, however, are lower in South Korea than in other countries, Reuters reports.

On the pork side, first-half exports were up 31% in volume (77,209 metric tons) and 48% in value ($236.3 million).

The strong performance is despite an influx of lower-priced European pork into the market, USMEF says.

Pork from the European Union has been shut out of the Russian market since January, which has led to lower prices and more aggressive marketing in Korea by European suppliers.

"We're seeing very, very low prices out of Europe, especially on items like bellies," Halstrom said, "but to me that is pretty encouraging because in the light of low prices from one of our biggest competitors during the time of high prices in the U.S., our numbers are still up.

"The story on pork is very positive," Halstrom concludes.

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