Korean Beef Imports Remain High

KOREA - Korean beef imports maintained their momentum during July, jumping 21 per cent year-on-year, to 21,575 tonnes swt, with shipments for the first seven months of 2010 up 21 per cent on 2009 levels, at 146,244 tonnes swt.
calendar icon 27 August 2010
clock icon 2 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

The increased demand for imported beef in the Korea market in 2010 has been reflected in higher volumes from both Australia and the US, assisted by a combination of strong consumer demand and low domestic cattle slaughter, reports Meat and Livestock Australia.

Australian volumes for the past month increased 14 per cent year-on-year, to 11,648 tonnes swt, taking imports for January to July to 76,649 tonnes swt - nine per cent ahead of the same period in 2009. Korean imports of US beef increased 53 per cent in July (7,000 tonnes swt) and 56 per cent for the first seven months of 2010, to 44,591 tonnes swt. Beef imports from New Zealand in July (2,756 tonnes swt) increased 14% on the same period last year, with total imports so far in 2010 back 4% (23,311 tonnes swt).

While positive economic conditions and strong consumer demand has helped to fuel the rise in beef imports so far in 2010, a significant fall in Korean cattle slaughter and beef production has also assisted the rise in imports. In 2009, domestic Korean beef accounted for almost 50 per cent of total beef consumed in the market (and averaged 48 per cent for the past five years). In 2009, Australia held the majority share of the imported beef market at 58 per cent, followed by the US on 26 per cent and NZ with 15 per cent.

Reflecting the reduction in Korea's domestic beef production in 2010 has been a 13 per cent year-on-year decline in total cattle slaughter between January and June, with Hanwoo female numbers back 16 per cent. Over the same period, the Korean cattle herd has reportedly increased nine per cent, to 3.3 million head - the highest number since 1998.

Given the reduction in cattle slaughter throughout 2010 and expanding herd, Korean beef production is anticipated to increase in the near-term, which will put pressure on imported beef volumes.

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