Last year, the South Korean pork industry suffered from a severe case of foot-and-mouth disease which led to the cull of more than three million hogs. However, the industry has recovered to such an extent that domestic production is having an impact on pork imported into the country, especially from America, according to the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF).
The USMEF is working with the USDA and South Korea on the campaign to promote the consumption of frozen pork, which is considered a lower-quality product in Kore, by using the popularity of celebrity chefs and TV cooking programmes.
Chef Shin Hyo Seob, the Pork Checkoff and the Illinois Soybean Association are working on a USDA Market Access Funded campaign, which has multiple phases to raise awareness of chilled high-quality US pork.
Chef Shin is the focal-point of the campaigns, which show four types of US chilled pork cuts — belly, collar, butt and skirt meat, and jowls. Shin said he enjoys using US chilled pork for his dishes because “it is chilled and makes every dish he prepares better”.
USMEF-Korea director Jihae Yang said: “Our goal is both to raise awareness of American pork and to associate it with leading chefs who choose only the best products for their dishes.”
The US is the leading exporter of pork to Korea and holds 32% of the volume share, which equates to 30.6% when measured by value. Through the first four months of 2012, US pork exports to South Korea were down in both volume and value, but South Korea is still the fifth-biggest importer of American pork, buying in 67,061 metric tons (£147.8m) of product at $192.7m a year.
Figures released as part of the campaign highlight that, in the first quarter of this year, levels of US exports to South Korea remained 38% above 2008 levels. Experts also say that the US will benefit from the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement, which has been in effect since mid-March.