Aussie Beef Losing its Grip on Korean Markets

AUSTRALIA - The Korean wholesale market experienced a slow month in December as a large number of Korean beef importers continued to face financial difficulties.
calendar icon 7 January 2009
clock icon 1 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

According to figures from the Australian Meat and Livestock Association (MLA)Australian beef exports to Korea in December reached 9,412 tonnes swt, down 44 per cent year-on-year. Shipments also fell compared to November levels, by 32 per cent with the largest reduction experienced for frozen grassfed product, which decreased by 41 per cent to 6,290 tonnes swt.

Australian beef exports to Korea in 2008 fell 15 per cent on a year earlier, to 127,207 tonnes swt. Exports were impacted by the strong depreciation of the Korean won against the US$ and the return of US beef. Even though the return of US beef to Korea initiated protests by Korean consumers, Korean beef importers purchased large volumes of US beef.

The lack of distribution channels and the slow consumer acceptance of US beef resulted in giant stockpiles of US beef (estimated at around 20,000 tonnes at the peak) and eventually its dissipation onto the market. The strong currency fluctuations and high stock levels left Korean beef importers with little purchasing power.

It is expected by industry insiders that the tight credit situation faced by Korean importers will improve during the first quarter of 2009 as stocks are cleared and Korean importers buy more carefully.

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