Ever since the Korea US Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) was ratified, US pork has dominated the domestic market with its competitively low price. Refrigerated meat is especially popular among consumers.
On the other hand, US beef sales are rather slow.
On August 11, the Korea International Trade Association (KITA) and US Meat Export Council reported that by the end of June US pork ranked first in the imported pork market with a market share of 40.1%. Next was Canadian pork with 13.5% market share, Chilean with 10.6%, German with 9.4%, and Polish with 3.3%.
The import volume and market share of US pork ranked first place in 2005, and the market share grew quite rapidly recently. In fact, the US pork market share in June last year was 32.8%, which means it increased 7.3% in just a year.
In 2011, US beef held 37.5% market share in the entire beef market, dropped to 36.0% in 2012, and went back up to 34.5% by June this year. US beef market share was 12.1% points away from first-ranked Australian beef, but went up to 19% in June. The reason US pork could do well despite the US beef market slowdown was the price drop due to the KORUS FTA. In fact, the tariff on US beef dropped to 34.6% this year from 40% last year while the standard tariff on US frozen pork belly dropped to 8.3% this year from what used to be 25%.
Also, consumers are interested in refrigerated US pork belly. While most imported pork is frozen, US pork is one of the few that is not frozen after butchery and gets imported as refrigerated pork. About 5% of the pork imported from the US is imported as refrigerated meat.
Some point out that the Korean government needs to pay more attention and support domestic hog raising farms as much as it does domestic stock breeding farms, especially with the strong growth of US pork imports. Starting in 2016, the tariff on frozen US pork belly will end, and that of refrigerated US pork belly will also get cut in half to 11.2% from its standard 22.5%.