U.S. beef imports at record high in 2022 amid high demand [Photo by Park Hyung-ki]
U.S. beef imports in South Korea reached an all-time high in 2022, with over 250,000 tons shipped during the year.
According to the U.S. Meat Export Federation on Tuesday, Korea imported 256,910 tons of American beef in 2022, accounting for 54 percent of its total beef imports, up 2.8 percentage points from the previous year. The value stood at $2.54 billion.
“Importers are bringing in more of U.S. beef after monitoring a rise in demand amid growing popularity of home meal replacements made with American beef,” said an unnamed official from the federation.
Korea imports beef from nine countries including the U.S., Australia, and Canada. Imports from the U.S. have been on a rise in recent years.
According to data from Korea Institute for Animal Products Quality Evaluation, U.S. beef imports surged 50 percent to 254,873 tons in 2021 from 169,000 tons in 2017. Imports from Australia, in the meantime, rose only 6 percent during the same period to 160,000 tons from 150,000 tons. Korea in 2021 was the largest importer of U.S. beef.
Market insiders projected that U.S. beef imports could surpass domestic production. In 2021, Korea consumed 716,472 tons of beef, of which 264,000 tons were local produced and 453,000 tons imported, including 255,000 tons from the U.S.
Demand for U.S. beef is expected to rise even further as the current 8 percent tariff will be removed from 2026 under Korea-U.S. free trade agreement.
By Jin Young-hwa and Han Yubin
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