Growing South Korean Export Market

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The Pork Checkoff, U.S. Meat Export Federation and Soybean Checkoff are working together to build markets in South Korea and they’re doing it with the taste of American BBQ. Craig Morris, who is the vice president of international marketing for the National Pork Board, highlights this unique effort and the trade opportunities in Southeast Asia.


Don Wick


Craig Morris, VP International Marketing, National Pork Board




Don Wick: 00:03 From the Pork Checkoff in Des Moines Iowa, it’s Pork Pod. Pork Pod, a look at the hot topics in today’s pork industry. The Pork Checkoff is working for you through various forms of research, promotion, and consumer information projects. I’m Don Wick speaking on behalf of the Pork Checkoff, and today our guest is Craig Morris, Vice President of International Marketing for the National Pork Board. Certainly, the Pork Checkoff, along with the US Meat Export Federation, putting focus on international markets in Southeast Asia, particularly with South Korea. Craig, if you would, bring us up to speed and some of those latest efforts.

Craig Morris: 00:34 You Bet. We’re really excited about a new US Meat Export Federation pulled pork promotion in South Korea. Really trying to build on strong demand in South Korea, for not only US pork, but really all things US barbecue. And so we’re really excited with this particular project, that was actually funded by the United Soybean Board, which is outstanding to see partners in other industries to help promote US pork abroad.

Don Wick: 01:10 So what exactly are we trying to promote, like US styled pork, pulled pork? Or is there a different alliteration in South Korea?

Craig Morris: 01:14 Well, barbecue is really hot! So what we’re seeing, for example, the Subway retailer, they have some 305 outlets there in South Korea. They’re doing a pulled pork barbecue sandwich, not unlike what we would see here in the US. But pulled pork is really hot in Korea in a number of different applications, on Mexican food which is hot in South Korea, pizzas, and then again here in sandwiches. So we’re really trying to build on a really strong demand by South Korea. Not just for US pork but, but just even shoulders. Korea’s imports of that Boston Butt, that picnic shoulder category are up some 45 percent this year. And the United States is really getting the lion’s share of that shoulder import market there into South Korea.

Don Wick: 02:04 I mentioned the Pork Checkoff and USMEF. United Soybean Board is also involved in this effort?

Craig Morris: 02:10 Yeah. This is actually a fully USB funded project and so we’re really excited to see USB helping to support US pork, and really the market that’s been the brightest spot for the United States this year. If you look at US exports, we’re up 44 percent by volume to South Korea this year, some 55 percent by value. We’ve had more increase in exports to South Korea, some 29,000 metric tons so far this year. More increase in exports to South Korea than any other market around the world. So the whole reason US pork exports are up this year, or a big part of the reason I should say that US pork exports are up this year, is because of strong growth in South Korea.

Don Wick: 02:54 How does that help leverage the Pork Checkoff dollars by working with USMEF, Soybean Checkoff, those kinds of things?

Craig Morris: 03:02 We’ve got a great relationship, not just with our state partners that do some direct funding of international marketing campaigns, but obviously with our partners like the United Soybean Board. We met actually with the United Soybean Board and our board of directors meeting earlier in June, right before the World Pork Expo and went over with Polly Ruhland, the CEO there, our marketing strategy, our diversification priority that we have and making sure that, as we say, we don’t have all of our bacon in one basket. So we try to coordinate as best we can with other industries, like soybeans, that obviously a significant percentage of US soy bean production goes into hog feed. Other partners out there that benefit from an increase in US pork exports and helping grow US market share. The US is the dominant player in the South Korean market. We’ve got some 38 percent of that market.

Don Wick: 03:58 No doubt a lot of uncertainty as it relates to trade today. A lot of competition out in the marketplace. How important are those relationships that you have in these international markets like in South Korea?

Craig Morris: 04:12 Unbelievably! In markets like South Korea, where it’s a very developed market and it’s one that has a very discerning market. It is, as I said, for the world and, you know frankly, a destination for the exporting countries. The United States is the dominant player in that picnic Boston butt market going into Korea. But Europe puts a lot of bellies into that market, a lot, a whole bunch of other products go in there and because you’ve got different countries that are shipping into South Korea. It’s important that each country that wants that market share, we develop those personal relationships and this particular campaign, this pulled pork campaign, is really working with the buyers there in South Korea. Developing those relationships and helping them to understand how US pork really fits well, with a story really that’s built around a US cuisine in this barbecued pulled pork.

Don Wick: 05:05 If I could move past this particular campaign, just as you take a look at across the globe today, where are you seeing really the opportunities right now as we extend through the balance of 18?

Craig Morris: 05:17 Oh, South America I think is going to continue to be a very important market for us, without a doubt. I think if you look at South America growth, that’s you know, South Korea is our number four market, but South America as a region is our number six market. We’re up some 23 percent by volume, 24 percent by value. Individually, these markets aren’t as big as the Mexicos, the Chinas, Japans, things that we typically talk about, but the percentage growth in South America has been very, very strong. Central America, Caribbean, ASEAN, those are all regions that we’re going to put substantial, our International Marketing Committee, has recommended that we put substantially more resources into for 2019 than we have in the past, just to make sure that we can capitalize on their, frankly, dietary pattern shift towards eating more pork. They’ve got a good cultural view of pork as an ingredient in food. And we know that with their, quite frankly, increase in disposable income in a high quality product that we have to provide with a number of logistical advantages, we hope to capitalize on that.

Don Wick: 06:27 Craig Morris from the National Pork Board. Thanks to you for listening to this edition of Pork Pod. For more information on this topic or the Pork Checkoff itself, visit the