Meat & Livestock News

US Beef Exports to South Korea Soar, Hitting Record Consumer Confidence


  • Consumer Confidence Surge: Korean confidence in US beef has soared to over 70%, with a similar percentage planning future purchases, marking a significant rise from past years.
  • Preference Factors: Price, taste, and safety are key reasons Koreans prefer US beef, with the majority highlighting its affordability.
  • Leading Supplier Status: The US has secured its spot as Korea’s top beef supplier, holding a majority market share thanks to concerted efforts by producers and support from industry programs.

US beef exports to South Korea have been thriving, setting records in recent years. The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) has unveiled optimistic findings, indicating a bright future for these exports.

In a significant leap of consumer confidence, December saw a record high of over 70% among Korean consumers regarding US-imported beef, a stark rise from 39.1% in 2013 and a mere 5.3% in early 2010, as reported by USMEF. Furthermore, 69.6% of those surveyed expressed their intention to purchase US beef in the future, marking an increase of 1.6 percentage points from an earlier 2023 survey.

Detailed insights from USMEF’s survey of nearly 1,000 Korean consumers revealed:

  • 18.8% trust in US beef’s safety based on personal experience, while 13.4% trust in the Korean government’s import decisions, and 12.9% rely on the US government’s endorsement.
  • A slight decrease in reluctance to purchase US beef, with 29.3% of respondents considering it “not likely,” down by 1 percentage point.
  • Among the proponents of US beef, 67.5% praised its “reasonable” price, 7.8% lauded its “good taste,” and 4.9% highlighted “safety” as a key factor.

South Korea emerged as the leading market for US beef in the last year, both in volume and dollar value, consistently ranking among the top three markets alongside Japan and China/Hong Kong.

In 2023, the US solidified its position as Korea’s primary beef supplier, a title held since 2017, with US beef constituting 50.5% of Korea’s imports, ahead of Australia’s 40.7% share.

Jihae Yang, USMEF’s vice president for the Asia Pacific, attributes this success to the support from the Beef Checkoff Program and USDA, as well as the efforts of beef producers to reclaim the market following the setback of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in 2003, which had led Korea and other nations to halt imports of US beef.