US Beef Struggling In Korean Market

US - Lotte Mart sold 30 per cent less American beef in August than in December last year while sales of Australian beef increased.
calendar icon 28 September 2009
clock icon 2 minute read

In December it sold 249 tons of US beef but just 73 tons in August. On the other hand, it sold 187 tons of Australian beef in August, up from 169 tons in December 2008. That, suggests The Chosun Ilbo, that the resumption of imports of US beef has contrary to expectations not hurt Australian beef sales here at all.

According to the National Veterinary Research and Quarantine Service, 16,773 tons of US beef was imported in October last year, a figure equivalent to a 60 per cent share of the import market. Many at the time thought US beef would sell well thanks to its price edge over expensive Korean beef, so Korea imported a large amount of US beef. For two or three months after import resumed, US beef overtook Australian beef, which had a 36 per cent of market share.

But the heyday was short-lived says The Chosun Ilbo. Since then, Korean consumers have turned away from US beef, and in August just 2,357 tons of US beef was imported, a market share of only 16 per cent. The total of 77,000 tons of US beef imported between September 2008 and August 2009 is just one-third of the 200,000-odd tons imported in 2003, before mad cow disease in the US halted imports.

The main reason, says The Chosun Ilbo, still appears to be fear of mad cow disease among Koreans, even one year and five months after the end of the huge nationwide protests against the resumption of US beef import. Some importers say it could take at least another 10 years until imports recover to pre-2003 levels.

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