South Korea ranked first among the top markets for US beef exports in 2021, with a record for such purchases.
In 2021, sales for that address were $2.345 million, up 41.8 percent year-over-year.
Prior to 2008, South Korea restricted the importation of beef and beef products from the United States, citing concerns related to bovine spongiform encephalopathy.
In 2008, the United States and South Korea reached a bilateral agreement to fully reopen the South Korean market to US beef and beef products.
However, as a temporary measure, US beef and beef products imported into South Korea had to come from animals less than 30 months old.
This “temporary measure” has remained in force more than a decade later, according to the United States Trade Representative (USTR).
In addition, imports of processed beef products, including ground beef patties, beef jerky, and sausages, remain prohibited.
Despite these barriers, South Korea became the largest export market for US beef by value and the second largest by volume in 2021.
The United States exported $9.265 billion worth of beef to the world last year, an increase of 41.6% compared to 2020.
Other of its main export markets were in 2021: Japan (1,874 million dollars, +19.1% year-on-year), China (1,525 million, +440%), Mexico (802 million, +28.6%) and Taiwan (667 million, + 21 percent).
The Department of Agriculture highlights that South Korea has the 10th largest economy in the world with a GDP of 1.6 trillion dollars and a GNI per capita of 31,755 dollars in 2020.
It is about the size of Indiana and has a population of 52 million.
More than 90% of Koreans live in urban areas. National production covers only 45% of food demand.
The United States exported $8.8 billion worth of agricultural products to Korea in 2020, making it its fifth largest export market. The United States supplies a quarter of Korea’s agricultural imports.