Korean Food Barley Promotion Educates Importers To Boost Sales Growth

The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) Korea held a U.S. food barley and malt seminar in Seoul in early December to educate importers, manufacturers and beer companies about the characteristics and selling points of the grain and to encourage importers to use more U.S. food barley and malt in their food, distilled liquor and beer.

USGC Korea invited McKay Seed Company CEO Dan McKay; McKay Seed Company Marketing Director Bryce McKay; and Malteurop North America Director of Technical Services Mary-Jane Maurice to South Korea to present information on U.S. barley supply and demand, consumption, trading and logistics as well as U.S. beer and malt market and consumption trends.

“It’s very important to promote the dual role of food barley to the Korean market as more and more consumers push for healthy foods, but also to show how U.S. barley can also sustain demand for barley-based beer and alcohol here,” said Haksoo Kim, director of the Council’s office in South Korea.

High beta-glucan barley has heart-healthy properties that may reduce cholesterol, lower the risk of heart disease and reduce glycemic index, according to U.S research. These nutritional properties make U.S. varieties of food barley attractive for Korean food producers.

South Korea is a mature market for U.S. grains and the Council has had a presence there since 1972. Since the implementation of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) in 2012, exports of grains in all forms have increased by 78 percent, and U.S. food barley exports, in particular, have blossomed, increasing almost two and a half times between 2015/2016 and 2017/2018, from 3,051 to 7,293 metric tons. But despite a zero-tariff advantage under a tariff rate quota (TRQ), imports of U.S. barley are limited because of a relatively small market size, domestic barley production and competition from a geographically closer neighbor, Australia.

KORUS has created an opportunity for the United States to export a fixed volume of food barley duty-free under the TRQ. The initial 2,500-metric-ton duty-free quota will grow 2 percent each year to 3,234 metric tons in 2025, at which time the tariff will be eliminated.

“It is necessary to promote the nutritional characteristics of U.S. barley for Korean consumers and provide buyers the opportunity to explore Korea’s niche food market using the advantage under the KORUS’ tariff rate quota,” Kim said.

South Korea is the fourth largest importer of U.S. barley – nearly 7,500 metric tons valued at just over $4 million in the 2017/2018 marketing year. However, barley is just one part of the Council’s outreach in the country. Korea is also the third largest market for U.S. corn and distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS), and with the possibility of a national fuel mandate as early as 2020, Korea is also set to open the market to U.S. ethanol demand of up to 100 million gallons for automotive fuel.

Click here for more information on food barley in South Korea.