Trade Mission to South Korea Results in $67 Million in Projected Sales as USDA Works to Diversify Export Opportunities for American Agriculture

  |   Feature
USDA Under Secretary Alexis Taylor looks at U.S. dairy products in a grocery store in South Korea.
Visiting grocery stores overseas and seeing U.S. foods and ingredients is one of the greatest parts of a USDA agribusiness trade mission, like the U.S. products for sale in South Korea. American food and agricultural products available to foreign consumers epitomizes U.S. agriculture exports and the benefits of trade.

A recent USDA-sponsored agribusiness trade mission to the Republic of Korea (South Korea) proved to be a tremendous success for nearly 50 U.S. agribusinesses, cooperators, trade associations, and state departments of agriculture looking to grow and diversify U.S. exports to East Asia. 

Recapping the successes of the trade mission, USDA’s Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Alexis M. Taylor said, 

During the trade mission to South Korea, U.S. exporters conducted more than 600 meetings with potential importers as they look to expand the variety of American products available to Korean consumers. As a result of those productive meetings, U.S. companies reported $67 million in projected 12-month sales to South Korea.

Under Secretary Taylor further explained that when it comes to U.S. food and agricultural imports, South Korea is a powerhouse buyer. It ranks as the United States’ fifth largest single-country export market. Just last year, exports of U.S. agricultural and ag-related products to South Korea totaled a little more than $8 billion. 

Those unfamiliar with the export potential to South Korea may be surprised by the numbers, but to Taylor and the team at USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service the numbers are what make it an ideal market. Such a substantial export market is especially important in the current trade landscape as the Biden-Harris Administration and USDA work to diversify markets for U.S. agricultural products, grow exports, and improve the bottom line for America’s farmers, ranchers, and agri-businesses. 

While South Korea is geographically smaller than New York state, it is densely populated with 50 million people, which is more than six times greater than the population of New York City (the most populous city in the United States). With little agricultural land, South Korea is reliant on food and agriculture imports, and the United States is well positioned and ready to help meet the demand of South Korea’s large population. 

During a media call with Taylor and leaders from the state departments of agriculture, Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward remarked, 

From an Arkansas perspective, we were certainly delighted to participate in the trade mission for multiple reasons, including what Under Secretary Taylor mentioned about market diversification. We're trying to increase our exports and diversify our markets here in Arkansas, and that certainly was a big topic for this trade mission.

As a part of the trade mission, Taylor and members of the U.S. delegation also visited Garak Wholesale Agricultural Market, Traders Wholesale Club, and Seoul Brewery, where they saw firsthand U.S. products lining the shelves and featured on the menu. At the Garak market, Taylor cooked up some Korean bar-be-que with U.S. pork. Seeing how local storeowners and restaurateurs use U.S. foods and agricultural products reaffirm that Korean consumers have a positive view of and fervent desire to purchase high-quality and diverse foods and ingredients that America offers. 

The trade mission also provided an opportunity for discussions between the USDA and the South Korea Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, as well as with U.S. and Korean agribusiness leaders. 

A future-facing spotlight of the week was a visit with Korea National University of Agriculture and Fisheries students. There, Taylor spoke with the next generation of Korean farmers and agricultural leaders about topics on which they are equally passionate, including ways the agriculture industry can help mitigate climate change and adapt to weather changes, infrastructure enhancements to help modernize agricultural production and trade, the aging farmer populations in the United States and South Korea, and their shared hopes for young people to enter the field of agriculture.

Next up for Taylor and the USDA is an agribusiness trade mission to India April 21 – 24. 

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