Korea - Cheap pork from Europe
August 29, 2011
Cheaper European pork is making its way into the South Korea market, the daily Joongang Ilbo reported.
Retailers are taking advantage of the government's temporary reduction in pork tariffs to alleviate the country's chronic shortage of samgyeopsal (pork belly), the most popular table meat in Korea.
And with the South Korea-European Union free trade agreement having gone into effect earlier this month, South Korean retailers have an added incentive to buy European pork.
Discount store chain E-mart will start selling frozen Belgian pork belly for the first time starting next week for between 850 won (81 cents) and 890 won (85 cents) per 100 grams (0.22 pounds). The company said it has secured 20 metric tons of Belgian pork belly. E-mart currently offers refrigerated Canadian pork belly at 1,180 won ($1.12) and frozen French pork belly at 980 won (93 cents).
South Korea experienced a pork shortage after an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the winter prompted authorities to slaughter more than 3 million pigs and cows, which caused the price of domestic pork belly to spike.
"One-hundred grams of domestic pork belly were sold for 1,980 won ($1.88) just a year ago and now it's sold for 2,280 won ($2.17) at E-mart. The increase in price made customers look to other options, cheaper imported pork belly they can afford at around 1,000 won (95 cents) per 100 grams," an E-Mart official said.
Market watchers project that an increase in imported European pork will bring prices down as well as decrease demand for domestic pork. Still, domestic pork belly dominates in terms of market share.
From January to June, only 17.6 percent of pork belly sold at E-Mart was imported, with the rest (82.4 percent) domestic. "But we noted that the market share of imported pork belly saw an 880 percent increase, or a nearly nine-fold increase, from the same period last year," the E-mart official said.
Lotte Mart currently sells pork belly from the Netherlands, Belgium and the U.S., and plans to import pork belly from Germany.
Market watchers say that consumption of imported pork belly is bound to rise, with the government's temporary 25 percent tariff reduction on frozen pork belly and 22.5 percent tariff reduction on refrigerated pork belly – measures that will remain in effect until the end of the year.
Also, pork belly from the European Union is likely to eat up a greater portion of the local market share in the coming years as the tariff is reduced by 2.5 percent annually starting next year over the next decade, following the FTA.
But pork belly imports are already going up. The Korea Meat Trade Association says 75,709 tons of pork belly was imported in the first half of the year, a 32.5 percent rise from the same period last year.
Source: newsroom - meattradenewsdaily.co.uk
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