Considering a Korea in beef exports

Livestock | 13th March 2023 | By Matt Dalgleish

Market Morsel

So far in 2023 South Korea has secured the second top spot in terms of beef export destinations from Australia, edging out the Chinese and sitting behind Japan in the top spot. A look at the competition for beef product going into South Korea shows that, like Japan, the only real competition for trade is the USA.

In 2022 the value of US beef exports into South Korea moved above $US 2 billion for the first time after demonstrating a steady recovery in the beef trade since they were sidelined in 2003-2006 from an outbreak of Mad Cow Disease (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy – BSE). It took the USA around a decade to regain the ground lost after their BSE outbreak with Australian beef exporters benefiting with increasing beef trade levels in the relative absence of the USA.

During 2022 Australia managed to reach the highest value of trade on record too with nearly $US1.4 billion of beef product shipped to South Korea, remarkable growth given the value of this trade was at $US0.75 billion in 2012 and just $US0.21 billion in 2002.

Analysis of market share highlights just how much South Korea relied on Australian and Kiwi beef producers to fill the void when the USA were out of the market due to their BSE episode, with nearly 80% of the imports coming from Australia and the other 20% filled by our colleagues across the ditch.

Once the US were back in the trade it didn’t take them long to get back to around 40% of the trade and in the last five years this proportion has lifted again significantly as the USA Korean FTA provided some additional trade support to see the US market share lift toward 60% of beef imports into South Korea.

The lift in market share for the USA in recent years has come at the expense of Australia with our market share dropping from the low 50% region to just under 40% of the trade, but Australia’s share of the South Korean trade remains above the levels seen before the US BSE outbreak. However, the re-emergence of the USA has seen Kiwi’s market share diminish significantly, to levels below what they have been achieving in the mid 1990s.


  • Beef
  • Exports
  • Trade