In anticipation of passage of the United States-South Korea free trade agreement (FTA), the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) is launching an expanded campaign to promote U.S. pork to South Korean consumers, importers and meat industry professionals.

The growth of U.S. pork exports to South Korea in recent months has been spurred by damage to that country’s domestic pork industry caused by foot-and-mouth disease, and related tariff reductions on imported pork designed to ensure Korean consumers have a stable and affordable food supply.

“We know firsthand the potential that Korea has for U.S. pork exports,” says Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “While FMD has been a tragedy for the Korean pork industry, resulting in the culling of more than 3.3 million hogs – about one-third of the domestic herd – it has created an opportunity for U.S. pork to fill the need in this market with high-quality product.”

The intensified USMEF pork campaign in Korea gets a boost with a $240,000 Pork Checkoff grant that USMEF is looking to supplement with U.S. Department of Agriculture Market Access Program funds.

“South Korea is an extremely important market for U.S. pork producers,” says Danita Rodibaugh, USMEF chair-elect and a pork producer from Rensselaer, IN. “The United States currently supplies 27% of the imported pork going into Korea, but there is aggressive competition from Canada, Chile and other nations, and this campaign will help establish more consistent identity for U.S. pork.”

The FTA is critical as a growing number of countries have recently signed trade agreements with South Korea.

Once approved, the U.S.-Korean FTA would eliminate tariffs on 90% of U.S. pork products by Jan. 1, 2016.

The intensified USMEF campaign will emphasize education and reinforce the association of U.S. pork with quality, value and excellent taste.

Processors, retailers and foodservice categories are the three primary categories of U.S. pork exports to Korea.

In 2010, the United States exported 191.8 million pounds of pork to South Korea valued at nearly $190 million, 16% lower in volume and 12% lower in value than in 2009.

So far in 2011, pork exports have rebounded 143% in volume and 198% in value over the same period in 2010.

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