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Iowan sees potential in South Korean market

By Staff | Aug 5, 2011

Garner-area cattleman Ed Greiman meets Jae-Soo Kim, first vice minister at the Korea Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries during the Iowa Trade Mission to South Korea and China. The South Korea leg of the trip took place this week and included 41 Iowans representing state government, business and industry, and farmers.

AMES (ICA) – Garner, Iowa cattle farmer Ed Greiman said his experience on Iowa’s South Korea/China Trade Mission in June has taught him that South Korean consumers have the very same concerns as U.S. consumers.

“They are very concerned about food safety and food quality. That’s no different than the expectations of U.S. consumers,” Greiman said.

“The South Korean market is phenomenal,” Greiman said. “I envisioned it as under-developed, but the country is full of young people who are well-educated and have good jobs.

“Walking around downtown Seoul is no different than walking around Chicago or New York City.

“These are people looking to add protein to their diets. We know they are looking for beef because it’s the Cadillac of meats. South Korea just can’t provide that for their population,” so the country will need to import beef.

Greiman, who is president-elect of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, is also a board member of the Iowa Beef Industry Council, which is funding the trip. Greiman joined 40 other Iowans on the mission that includes government, business and industry, and farm representatives.

In a meeting with Jae-Soo Kim, the first vice minister from the Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the Iowans talked about the pending Free Trade Agreement with South Korea.

That agreement has been on hold for nearly five years and the Obama Administration is readying it to present to Congress.

That trade agreement is critical to Iowa and the U.S., said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Bill Northey, who was also on the trip.

Currently, for every $100 of beef sold to the U.S., a tariff of $40 must be paid to South Korea. If the FTA passes Congress, it will eventually eliminate that tariff.

For Iowa alone, the impact of passing the bill will increase its sales to South Korea by $1 billion, Northey said.

Other beef-producing countries are aggressively going after the market in South Korean because it has the 12-largest economy in the world, Northey said.

Besides passage of the FTA, Greiman stressed that Iowa cattle farmers need to remember they are producing food.

“We’re not just selling cattle to a packer and that’s the end of it. Packers are just the middlemen that get our food to the U.S. consumer and the people in South Korea.”

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