U.S. pork may soon be making its way on to bakery and cafe menus across South Korea after the U.S. Meat Export Federation's latest efforts at the 2018 Seoul Cafe Show, the largest cafe industry trade show in Asia. Funded by the USDA Market Access Program and the National Pork Board, USMEF gave thousands of attendees a taste of U.S. pork and attracted interest from consumers through social media.
This year more than 160,000 people from 80 countries attended the show, confirming that its reach expands well beyond Korea.
“Cafes, coffee shops and bakeries are looking for convenient foods to put on menus, not only in Korea but in other Asian countries, too,” says Jihae Yang, USMEF director in South Korea. “A growing trend in this sector is to add protein snacks and quick convenience meals to menus. USMEF sees this as an opportunity for U.S. pork, and the Seoul Cafe Show was an excellent venue for putting U.S. pork products in front of consumers and industry leaders and decision-makers. The show is known as a great testing field for the cafe industry, with consumers and industry professionals coming together in one place.”
The USMEF booth featured brochures with detailed background information on U.S. processed pork items, along with examples of other U.S. pork products available in the retail sector and U.S. pork supplier contact information.
On display were various U.S. processed pork products, including sausage, bacon, pulled pork and salami, as well as prosciutto and ham items. At the show, representatives of restaurants, bakeries and online shopping malls talked with USMEF staff and made inquiries about U.S. pork.
“After sampling the U.S. pork items we offered, many visitors asked about suppliers in the region and wanted pricing information, which is evidence that interest was definitely created at the show,” says Yang.
Taking advantage of the Korean culture’s preference for social media to share information about food, USMEF conducted online events in coordination with the Seoul Cafe Show. Thousands of photos of the USMEF booth and U.S. processed pork items were posted with the keywords #American pork and #Cafe menu.
South Korea has been an outstanding growth market for U.S. pork in 2018, with exports through October already setting new annual records in both volume (191,610 metric tons, up 41% year-over-year) and value ($538.4 million, up 44%).