Customers in South Korea will be able to buy U.S. beef for the first time in three years this week. South Korea cleared the product for sale after finding no bone chips in shipments from Creekstone Farms Premium Beef in Arkansas City and Iowa Pacific Processors.
U.S. beef exported to South Korea must also undergo extensive chemical and dioxin testing, which can take up to 18 days, according to the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.
Creekstone passed the residue tests last year, making its product immediately available. In the case of Iowa Pacific, the beef originated from the Swift plant at Dumas, TX, and now is subject to the series of chemical tests.
"While we are pleased to see more sensible inspection protocols in place in South Korea, there is still more work to be done to rebuild the trading relationship between our two countries," says NCBA Chief Economist Gregg Doud.
He estimated the potential for U.S. beef sales to Korea at $815 million per year. NCBA will support the pending free trade agreement between the U.S. and South Korea only if commercially viable beef trade exists between the two countries.
Additionally, protein exporter Tyson Foods will also resume beef exports to South Korea "within the next few weeks," according to company spokesman Gary Mickelson.