At the U.S. Meat Export Federation’s (USMEF) recent strategic planning conference, USMEF members received an inside look into the history of U.S. beef in South Korea, including the rebuilding of Korean consumer confidence following large street protests just seven years ago. A case study titled “Korea: Thirty Years of Challenges for U.S. Beef” was presented by Joel Haggard, USMEF senior vice president for the Asian Pacific, and Jihae Yang, USMEF-Korea director.

In the attached audio report, Haggard describes some of the obstacles USMEF had to overcome in order to introduce U.S. beef to Korean consumers in the 1990s. But the U.S. industry made great strides, and became Korea’s largest beef supplier in the early 2000s. Then came a huge setback, when the Korean market closed to U.S. beef for several years following the 2003 BSE case.

While it’s been a long road back, Yang explains that USMEF is now able to focus less on consumers’ safety concerns and more on the quality and enjoyment of U.S. beef – and Korean consumers are responding very well to this message. This year (through September) U.S. beef exports to Korea are up 9 percent in volume (92,577 metric tons) and 4 percent in value ($612.9 million) from the same period in 2014.