December 3, 2008

Three of Korea's major retailers begin selling U.S. beef

Nebraska and U.S. cattle producers had something extra to be thankful for last week: Three of South Korea’s major retailers resumed sales of U.S. beef on Thanksgiving Day.

The U.S. Meat Export Federation made the announcement that E-Mart, Home Plus and Lotte Mart had resumed sales of U.S. beef on November 27 - Thanksgiving Day. The retail chains issued a joint press release announcing the decision and explaining that it is due in part to the slow economy and daily financial difficulties facing Koreans.

The companies said that their sales of U.S. beef will provide value and convenience, as well as help stabilize consumer prices. They added that there is no longer any reason for them not to carry price-competitive U.S. beef.

To help encourage sales, USMEF is providing promotional support to all the chains and believes initial sales at these three major retailers will prompt sales at other retail outlets. Combined, the three retailers have nearly 300 outlets.

USMEF president and CEO Philip Seng noted that although U.S. beef export numbers have been strong since shipments resumed in late July, sales in Korea have been limited to small outlets due to reluctance by major retailers and foodservice operations to sell U.S. beef.

Once the third-largest market for U.S. beef, Korea imported about $816 million in beef and beef variety meats in 2003 - the last year the market was fully open. At the time, this represented about 21 percent of the worldwide value of all U.S. beef exports.

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