Capitalizing on the growing craft burger craze in South Korea, USMEF promoted U.S. pork and beef during “American Burger Week” events held at several restaurants in Seoul and Gyeonggi Province. The promotions, which emphasized the importance of using U.S. bacon to top U.S. beef burger patties, was funded by the Pork Checkoff and the Texas Beef Council.
To help create interest in the U.S. bacon and burger combination, a number of American Burger Week videos were created and shared on social media. One video explaining the importance of using quality bacon and beef in a craft burger is available on Facebook.
“Koreans are aware that craft burgers put special emphasis on key ingredients – the beef, bacon and bun – and we worked with restaurants that use U.S. pork and beef to make high-quality craft burgers,” explained Jihae Yang, USMEF director in Korea, who noted that USMEF’s support of the Korean foodservice industry in American Burger Week followed past events such as American Steak Week and American BBQ Week. “Given the craft burger market’s rapid expansion, USMEF turned our focus to that area this year, helping educate consumers about these ingredients. Patties for craft burgers are freshly made every day using sub-primal cuts – chuck roll, shoulder clod, short plate or boneless chuck short ribs. It is important to let consumers know about the process of making these burgers, and the quality of the ingredients.”
A total of 27 craft burger restaurants participated. USMEF worked with three major restaurant apps to promote American Burger Week, while also providing promotional materials posted in the restaurants and special T-shirts for restaurant staff.
The event received a great deal of traditional media and social media attention, including feature articles in newspapers and key magazines. On social media, video content from America Burger Week activities resulted in more than 2 million views on Dingo and other sites. More than 120 blog and Instagram postings highlighted American Burger Week events, earning more than 32,000 “likes.”
Yang pointed out that U.S. beef is leading the craft burger market, while fast food burger franchises in Korea are more dependent on Australian beef.
“Burgers have become a staple in Korea’s dining scene – but while it was once considered a cheap and fast meal, the definition of a ‘burger’ is changing due to the rise of the craft burger,” she explained. “While independent craft burger restaurants are a major driving force in Korea, Shake Shack, the American craft burger chain, also made a very successful launch here last year. Four stores opened and two more are planned this year. Shake Shack’s Korea operation is currently consuming 40 metric tons (mt) of U.S. beef each month.”
The Korean market has been a top performer for both U.S. beef and U.S. pork in 2017. Through the first half of the year, beef exports to Korea were up 13 percent in volume (83,357 mt) and 21 percent in value ($527.7 million). The U.S. captured more than 50 percent of Korea’s chilled beef market as chilled exports totaled 18,816 mt (up 83 percent year-over-year) valued at $166 million (up 86 percent). First-half pork exports to Korea climbed 31 percent from a year ago to 94,545 mt, valued at $258.5 million (up 38 percent). With a strong second half, pork exports to Korea could exceed the record set in 2011.