December 21, 2006
South Korea pays the highest for beef, says USMEF
South Koreans have been paying the highest beef prices in the world, said US Meat Export Federation (USMEF).
South Korea has supplanted Japan as the country with the highest average beef prices in the world, added USMEF.
A strong currency and high import duties have coupled to create the distinction, but the continued absence of
US beef, which once accounted for half of total beef consumption in South Korea, has kept the market undersupplied and prices high for consumers.
South Korean consumers were paying the highest prices for average quality beef, in part because of overly strict import policies towards safe US beef, pointed out Phil Seng, USMEF president and CEO. At current exchange rates, reasonably priced kalbiand bulgoggi meals were no longer within the reach of all South Koreans.
USMEF calculated US dollar equivalent prices of two common grain-fed beef items in Seoul and Tokyo markets. At the wholesale level, prices of Australian short fed chilled rib-eye roll in Seoul and Tokyo were US$ 20.63 and US$ 18.30 per kg respectively while that of domestic average quality beef "loin" (Hanwoo and Wagyu A2 grade) were US$ 26.05 and US$ 23.83 per kg in Seoul and Tokyo respectively.
In large supermarket chains, Seoul consumers were paying an average of US$ 31 per pound for sliced chuck roll while Japanese shoppers could buy equivalent product for US$ 21 per pound.
USMEF estimated beef consumption in Japan and South Korea for 2006 to be 794,000 and 305,000 tonnes respectively, down from 936,000 and 390,000 tonnes in 2003.