According to the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), one of this year’s top-performing international markets for U.S. pork has been South Korea, where exports through April are up 28% year over year in volume (to 65,743 metric tons) and up 37% in value (to $178 million).
Jihae Yang, USMEF director in Korea, said the country went through some political turmoil earlier this year with the impeachment of its former president, but consumer confidence and economic activity bounced back quickly.
“There is no impact in terms of pork demand or pork consumption, which is good,” Yang said, adding that demand is strong for high-protein meals.
Yang also noted that although Korea’s domestic pork production is steady, it is not keeping pace with growing consumer demand for pork.
Online shopping is extremely popular with Korean consumers, especially those looking for convenient foods and home meal replacement items, according to Yang. This bodes particularly well for U.S. processed pork as well as for U.S. raw materials exported to Korea for further processing.
“Korean people are using more and more online shopping malls, and Korea is a small country, so everything is delivered overnight; many stores are going toward e-commerce,” Yang said.
She said single households and the younger generation are looking for convenient food and whole meal replacements, which is benefitting sales of U.S. processed pork. “So, we do a lot of promotion with the key e-commerce platform,” Yang added.