Seven Irish beef factories are being inspected for eligibility to export of beef to South Korea.

These inspections were being carried out this week by a team of auditors from South Korea, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) has confirmed.

DAFM has also confirmed to Agriland that discussions on the Veterinary Health Certificate “are already underway”.

The department has said that the timelines for the approval of Irish beef to go to Korea “are ultimately a matter for the Korean competent authorities”.

However Agriland understands that industry stakeholders are confident Irish beef will be on offer in South Korea by the final quarter of this year.

In December of last year, Agriland reported that Ireland’s application for beef access to South Korea has been advanced to the next stage.

The decision to advance Ireland’s application was made by the National Assembly of South Korea.

The final steps required was the agreement of a Veterinary Health Certificate and hosting the audit visit to approve plants for export, which has taken place this week.

It remains to be seen what range and specifications of beef will be sought by the south Korean market and it is unclear if beef offal is being considered initially for export to the market.

According to Bord Bia, South Korean consumers are the highest per capita consumers of meat in Asia, consuming 53.2kg per person, of which 11.4kg is beef. However, they rely heavily on imports to meet demand, according to Bord Bia.

In 2022, South Korea imported over 474,500t of beef of which 54% came from the US. Brazil, traditionally a major player in Asian markets, does not have access to the Korean market, Bord Bia said.

There will be a strong Irish presence at the Seoul Food trade show in June of this year and Bord Bia will also welcome South Korean meat buyers to Ireland in June for a tour of beef farms and processors, according to Bord Bia.