July 31, 2014

Nebraska ag delegates prepare to return from South Korean trade trip

Nebraska agricultural leaders will soon wrap up a trade visit to South Korea that has featured meetings with grain and meat industry representatives and tours of processing facilities.

Among the Nebraska producers, Scott Spilker of Beatrice is part of the delegation that’s overseas this week.

Spilker says he’s impressed with the strong South Korean economy, now the world’s 13th largest and the country has recently reached the trillion-dollar trade club.

Spilker, who is representing the Nebraska Pork Producers on the trip, says pork is very popular in South Korea.

He says there’s a fair amount of potential for a growing pork market there. He says about 60% of South Koreans’ diet is seafood but pork runs second at around 20% while beef and poultry are each at around 10%.

Spilker says food safety has become an important issue in the South Korean market following a health problem.

“Their industry was devastated with foot and mouth disease in the last couple of years and they’ve really had to rely on foreign markets even more,” he says, “but their domestic production is now coming back.”

Spilker says the free trade agreements that were approved last fall have helped build the market between the U-S and South Korea.

“It’s positive on both sides,” he says. “Trade improves relations between the countries and allows us to be on an equal playing field.”

Spilker says it’s exciting to see U-S pork in the supermarkets in South Korea and he feels there is a lot of potential in the future for additional U-S pork to be imported.

Nebraska Department of Agriculture director Greg Ibach has been leading the group this week on the trade visit.

By Dave Niedfeldt, KWBE, Beatrice