ANALYSIS - This week South Korea has announced that it is opening up its markets to beef imports from Uruguay. Last month, South Korea also announced that it was going to allow imports of beef from Chile, reports Charlotte Johnston, TheCattleSite editor.
These two countries join Australia, US, New Zealand, Canada and Mexico in supplying the Korean market.
Consumption of beef in South Korea is increasing up to five per cent year-on-year, with consumer confidence in export markets increasing thanks to promotional lobbying from Australia and the US.
Previously consumption has been highly responsive to health scares. In 2004 consumption dropped sharply following on from a BSE outbreak in Canada and the US. The US's increasing presence in the Korean retail markets seems to have paid off, with little to no effects seen on consumption or imports of US beef following the BSE case seen in California earlier this year.
Korean beef consumption reached a record of 436,000 tonnes (boneless weight) in 2010, which was easily exceeded by 493,000 tonnes in 2011.
Whilst Australian and the US remain the largest beef exporters to South Korea, the opening up of import markets suggests there is definitely increasing competition for this growing market.