U.S. beef representatives visit Korea, Japan

Consumers in Japan and South Korea hungry for U.S. beef.

A U.S. beef industry delegation traveled to Japan and South Korea in mid-May to examine market conditions in the two largest value destinations for U.S. beef exports. Highlights of the trip included taking part in promotional activities organized by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) -- contractor to the beef checkoff -- and meeting with key international customers and industry contacts.

Texas Beef Council representative Jackie Means was very encouraged by the trip, noting, “I’m wildly enthusiastic about what I’ve seen for the opportunities for the beef industry in the U.S. here in both Japan and Korea.”

It has been beneficial to see the reception U.S. product gets and the ways beef is being used, she added.

Todd Inglee with the Colorado Beef Council said he brought a different perspective to the trip, because it was the first time the state’s beef council had ever invested direct funds in USMEF. “It is very eye-opening here. I’ve got a much clearer perspective now of what the actual markets are like,” Inglee said.

He has been professionally involved in the cattle industry for about 27 years but had never participated in a trip like this one.

“I’ve always heard about how important these foreign markets are, and I think I just accepted that, but in my mind, it’s always been a little fuzzy what it’s really like over here. Now, I’ve been able to be here and see the culture, experience the culture, talk with people, participate in some promotions, and it's really been an eye-opener.”

Inglee discussed the decades of work USMEF has done in the region and how it has earned the group a lot of respect.

According to USMEF, Japan was a $1.5 billion market for U.S. beef last year, and the Korean market exceeded $1 billion for the first time. In addition, the U.S. is ahead of that pace already this year, USMEF said.

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