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USMEF participates in South Korean food showcase

USMEF participates in South Korean food showcase

Tasting samples distributed and new menu ideas offered for institutional catering services.

South Korea’s institutional foodservice sector is undergoing a transformation that has catering companies and similar businesses searching for new products and suppliers, creating new opportunities for U.S. beef and pork, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).  As part of its strategy to increase the U.S. share in this market segment, USMEF recently participated in the Samsung Welstory Food Festa, a private showcase that attracted more than 1,500 foodservice operators and managers.

The two-day promotional effort was funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Market Access Program (MAP), the Beef Checkoff Program and the National Pork Board.

“The institutional foodservice sector in Korea is seeing changes to its customer base due to demographic shifts and changes in dining habits, so companies are looking at ways to attract new customers and to increase loyalty among existing customers,” USMEF director in Korea Jihae Yang said.

According to USMEF, Samsung Welstory launched the Food Festa to bring foodservice suppliers together in one place. USMEF participated in the showcase for the first time in 2018, and Yang said there was significant interest in U.S. beef and pork. Interest was even stronger in 2019, which USMEF said was due partly to the recent confirmation of African swine fever (ASF) in South Korea.

“For example, in the foodservice sector, U.S. pork picnic has been competing with domestic pork ham as a central ingredient for various dishes in Korea. That was a big point of discussion last year,” Yang said. “Due to increasing concerns about ASF, visitors to the showcase had even greater interest in U.S. pork picnic this year, as well as Boston butt.”

Along with those two cuts, USMEF displayed and promoted U.S. pork back ribs and CT butt, as well as U.S. beef chuck eye roll, strip loin, shoulder clod, rib-eye, bone-in and boneless chuck short rib, chuck flap tail and top blade.

Tasting samples were distributed at the USMEF booth, with visitors receiving marinated U.S. beef and pork bulgogi. USMEF also offered new menu ideas for institutional catering services, which typically offer meals of cooked rice, soup and three or four side dishes that are often made with beef or pork.

Alex Choi, USMEF assistant marketing manager in Korea, said in the past, many institutional catering businesses have relied on competitors’ products, such as Australian beef and European pork. However, interest in U.S. product has been increasing.

“We noticed last year that catering managers and buyers started to show great interest in U.S. pork and beef due to the consistent supply and competitive prices,” Choi said. “For example, USMEF introduced U.S. beef clod into the Korean market at the end of 2016. Today, U.S. beef is getting more attention from institutional catering companies that were users of Australian beef. Also, the presence of U.S. pork Boston butt is gradually increasing in this sector.”

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