Each year representatives of some of the U.S. Meat Export Federation's (USMEF) member organizations have an opportunity to observe USMEF marketing efforts for U.S. pork and beef in key international markets. 

The first stop on this year's program is South Korea, a market that performed extremely well for both pork and beef in 2011 and where the newly ratified Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement provides a foundation for future trade.

Last year, U.S. pork exports to South Korea more than doubled in volume to 188,307 metric tons and increased 162 percent in value to $497 million.

Roger Knoblock, a pork producer and cattle feeder from Lester, Iowa, is participating in the trip on behalf of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board.  “I know the (USMEF) and our exporters have their work cut out for them because there is a lot of competition,” Knoblock said. “The (USMEF) Korean staff has done an excellent job and  I don’t know what we would do without them.”

Chris Abbott, a cattle rancher from Cherry County, Neb., is a member of the Nebraska Beef Council board of directors. Abbott stressed the importance of international marketing efforts by USMEF and the fierce level of competition facing U.S. beef and pork in key Asian markets.

The newly ratified free-trade agreement offers excellent growth opportunities for both U.S. pork and beef in South Korea but U.S. exporters are especially anxious to gain relief from the nation’s tariff, which will be phased out over the next 15 years.

In 2011, U.S. pork exports totaled 2.255 million metric tons valued at $6.11 billion, breaking the previous volume record of 2.052 million metric tons and shattering the value record of $4.88 billion, which were both established in 2008. Year-over-year, pork exports were up 18 percent in volume and 28 percent in value.