Costco Expansion Builds Momentum for U.S. Beef in Korea

Jamie Johansen

U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) reports that U.S. beef has built momentum in South Korea, and received a further boost since Costco recently began converting its imported chilled beef selection from Australian beef to 100% U.S. product. The move follows a multi-year effort by the USMEF to persuade store managers that sales of U.S. beef would match or exceed Australian beef sales due to revived consumer confidence in the safety of U.S. beef.

In total, Costco’s move represents an opportunity for about 15,000 metric tons (mt) of incremental new beef business in 2017, said Jihae Yang, USMEF director in Korea. Yang noted that the theme of U.S. beef promotions in Korea has gradually moved from food safety to consumer enjoyment and product quality.

“While USMEF still reassures Korean consumers that U.S. beef is a safe product, we are now able to focus more on the outstanding flavor of U.S. beef,” Yang said. “Tasting demonstrations at Costco and other popular stores have been very successful in getting consumers to taste U.S. beef and increase awareness of our product.”

“Korean consumers love the high quality of U.S. beef and really enjoy the flavor of our product,” added Dan Halstrom, USMEF senior vice president for marketing. “In Korea, Costco is the gold standard when it comes to imaging food products, especially beef. USMEF, along with our partners in the U.S. beef industry, have been working hard to recapture market share in Korea. We’ve been able to do that, but mostly on the frozen side. The marquee items at Costco are the chilled beef cuts and we finally have that chilled section of the meat case back.”

Ag Group, Beef, Export, Food, Meat, USMEF