US Short Ribs Gain Popularity in Korea

US - U.S. beef exports continue to gain ground in South Korea, with beef short ribs being one of the most favored cuts for Korean cuisine. The market is fiercely competitive, however, and Korean consumers are in search of high-quality items that deliver excellent value.
calendar icon 30 March 2009
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Thanks to the teamwork of USMEF and the Nebraska Beef Council (NBC), U.S. short ribs are now on prominent display in Korea’s Lotte Mart stores.

With the support of funding provided by NBC through the Beef Checkoff Program, beef short ribs are being offered at Lotte Mart stores in a special promotion through the end of March. Tasting events are being held in 18 of Lotte Mart’s 63 locations, with advertising placements in Korea’s daily newspapers and commuter tabloids.

“We are very pleased with the response to this promotion,” said Jihae Yang, USMEF-Korea director. “Consumers here know the tremendous quality and flavor of U.S. beef, and this promotion is a great way to rebuild loyalty in of their favorite cuts.”

Beef short ribs are a popular delicacy in Korea, where they can command a significant premium compared to the domestic market. Therefore, exporting short ribs can have a very positive impact on the value to U.S. cattle.

“It is exciting to have U.S. beef back in Korea, because it is such a top-performing market for our product and we need a strong presence in the global markets in order to be profitable,” said Dave Hamilton, a Thedford, Neb., rancher who serves as NBC chairman. Hamilton also chairs the beef industry’s Joint International Markets Committee and serves on the Beef Promotion Operating Committee. “But cattle producers understand that we need to aggressively promote U.S. beef in order to win back these customers. Partnering with USMEF and Lotte Mart for this short rib promotion provides us with a great opportunity to do that.”

Though it was open to U.S. beef for only the second half of the year, Korea was still the fourth-largest beef export market in 2008. Despite a sluggish economy and protests over U.S.-Korea trade issues, Korea imported $294.4 million in U.S. beef last year. But with the market having peaked in 2003 at nearly $816 million, Hamilton sees plenty of room for further growth.

“We’ve diversified the international markets for U.S. beef, and that’s a very positive development,” he said. “But these proven mainstay markets like Korea are very critical for our long-term profitability, and I look forward to the day when U.S. beef fully reclaims its dominant position in this market.”

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