Ag industry leaders examine markets in Korea and Japan

by | Sep 18, 2023 | 5 Ag Stories, News

A team of about 20 representatives of the beef, pork, corn, and soybean industries traveled to South Korea and Japan last week with the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) Heartland team to examine how checkoff dollars are being used to promote U.S. beef and pork in the region. The Heartland Team visited a beef processing plant, various retail sites and the headquarters of a leading hamburger chain. With home meal and restaurant meal replacement kits soaring in popularity, the group also got a firsthand demonstration of how U.S. pork and beef are utilized in these kits.

Iowa pork producer Gene Noem, who represents the National Pork Board on the USMEF Executive Committee, said the message of U.S. pork quality is resonating with consumers in Asia.

“Here in Japan, the thing that’s really stuck out to me is that we can use the U.S. origin story to really differentiate ourselves from domestic pork, but also to really tell the story about how nutritious and high quality it is to increase consumption of pork in the nation and worldwide,” Noem said.

Laurie Johnson, a beef producer from South Dakota, said there’s a noticeable impact from the home meal replacement kits in Korea, and there are opportunities available for U.S. beef as consumers seek more convenience.

“The home ready meal replacements- that’s been super eye opening for me,” Johnson said. “They’re really busy. They have single household families. So, a little bit like the U.S. really, really busy. But seeing that take off has been really, really cool for me and my perspective. Utilizing some of the cuts that maybe we aren’t utilizing, I think has also been really eye opening and what they do with that cut is pretty awesome. It’s been really good.”

Kentucky cattleman Don Pemberton added that the market visits to Korea and Japan showed how competitive the meat case is in a global marketplace.

“I’m not used to seeing other countries proudly display their products in our grocery stores back home, it’s all U.S. beef,” Pemberton said. “Well, here we split the beef counter with Australia. That is a huge competitor when it comes to the protein industry here. So, if organizations like USMEF aren’t here fighting to promote our product we could lose share. So, I’m so glad that we have USMEF protecting and watching out for the U.S. cattlemen here in our overseas markets.”

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