Goodman: ‘Critical’ to push for bone-in beef access in Korean talks

From Seoul, South Korea

Potential buyers of Irish beef in South Korea have advised Irish suppliers that it is critical that Ireland pushes for bone-in beef access to the Asian country, according to managing director of ABP International Mark Goodman.

Commenting to AgriLand at the Department of Agriculture and Bord Bia trade mission to Japan and South Korea, Goodman outlined the opportunities in the Asian markets.

Regarding South Korea, he said: “We have met with multiple importers here in South Korea and indeed hosted inward visits to our factories in Ireland last month.

“The Koreans are extremely keen to gain supply of Irish beef as they believe we have a safe, high-quality product with a stable supply.”

However, the director noted that South Korean buyers have a tendency to favour bone-in products, which are used for Korean barbecue restaurants, where beef is traditionally served.

They’ve advised us that it’s critical that Department of Agriculture officials push for bone-in as well as boneless access if Ireland expects to gain a real foothold in the market.

Turning to his experience of Japan, Goodman is optimistic, noting that he believes 2019 will be a very positive year for Irish beef and beef offals in Japan.

He outlined three key drivers for this optimism, the first of which being the recent announcement of the removal of the 30-month age restriction for beef exports to Japan – which he said has “expanded potential volumes both in terms of offal and primal cuts”.

Secondly, the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (JEEPA), which has seen tariffs on EU beef reduced from 38.5% to 27.5% on February 1 last, and to 26.7% on April 1.

The reduction in beef and offal tariffs have significantly increased interest from buyers, according to Goodman, noting that the action has moved Irish produce in line with major suppliers to the country such as Australia.

Finally, he said that, due to the threat of African swine fever (ASF), Japanese buyers seem keen to “lock down” supplies of beef and beef offal before China moves in and consumes everything due to switching from pork to beef imports.