August 20, 2014
South Korea to import more beef due to falling cattle numbers
Falling domestic cattle numbers and rising beef prices in South Korea will see the republic importing more beef in the coming year.
According to the US Department of Agriculture's (USDA) annual report on livestock and products in the Republic of Korea, total beef cattle numbers have continued to decline, as many smaller producers have struggled with high feed prices, "coupled with the government plan to compensate farmers that stopped raising cattle".
Due to an increase in calf prices, farmers are also retaining their cows for breeding purposes, with 2015 beef production projected to decrease by 7.4% from this year's level.
Consumption of imported beef is estimated to rise in 2015, as domestic production drops, said the USDA. The higher prices for US beef were partly offset by preferential duty. Under the KORUS Free Trade Agreement, US beef is subject to a 32% duty, rather than 40% for beef from competing nations.
However, overall beef consumption is not expected to rise rapidly. A sluggish economy, decreased dining out, and a diminished price gap between US and domestic beef prices have all contributed to the moderate estimations for growth. According to the report, the bulk of US beef in Korea is consumed in hotels and restaurants, but with people eating out less, consumption of US beef has remained flat.