International market research, analysis and immersions allow NPB the opportunity to increase U.S. pork value and marketability through increased understanding of various markets.  

USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) trade missions are an important opportunity to increase or expand food and agricultural exports to a market or region. 

Since 2022, NPB has participated in USDA FAS trade missions to the United Kingdom, Central America (Panama), Southeast Asia (Malaysia & Singapore), Chile, and Japan. These trade missions have been a successful pathway for promoting U.S. food and agricultural products around the world. 

Recently, NPB Board Member Rich Deaton and I traveled abroad to promote U.S. pork by participating in a trade mission to Seoul, South Korea. The trade mission offered us the opportunity to learn more about increasing our food and agricultural exports to the region. At NPB, we trust and value what our producer leaders are seeing to help us identify gaps while also providing them the opportunity to advocate for U.S. pork with our international customers. 

Rich Deaton (pork producer) is shown with U.S. pork products in-hand at Costco

While in Seoul, we represented U.S. pork, engaged directly with customers, observed U.S. product promotion in the marketplace, and participated in site visits. Building on a record value year for U.S. Pork exports, we received in-depth market briefings from USDA’s FAS and U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) to better understand market dynamics and consumer trends.  

Importance of the Korean Market 

South Korea ranks as the United States’ fifth largest market for agricultural and related products in 2023, with exports totaling more than $8 billion1. For 2023, exports were 9% above the previous year at 191,262 mt, the third largest on record. Export value increased 4% to $633.4 million, the second highest on record.2  As you can see from the chart below, South Korea is an important market for U.S. exports. 

2023 Total Exports to South Korea: 

  • Volume: 191,261 (up 9% YOY) 
  • Value: $633,414 (up 4% YOY) 

In addition, South Korea has already seen a very strong start for 2024 which shows that U.S. agricultural products are highly valued and trusted.  

2024 YTD Exports (Jan) to South Korea: 

  • Volume: 20,727 MT (up 53% YOY) 
  • Value: $67,642 (up 51% YOY) 

Expanding International Market Development with USMEF 

Through cross-industry collaboration, NPB partners with and invests in the USMEF to maximize pork marketing efforts abroad. USMEF executes trade promotion for U.S. pork and pork products on behalf of the Pork Checkoff, positioning U.S. pork as a high-quality, safe, sustainable and consistent product to global customers. NPB values its partnership with USMEF due to its strong connections with exporters and its established presence in critical markets.   

Producer Rich Deaton with USMEF Korea Team

With focused marketing strategies throughout 2023, USMEF expanded promotions for chilled and branded pork products at key accounts in the retail sector, including tasting demonstrations and purchase incentives. These in-store retail promotions have been effective strategies to drive sales of U.S. product. USMEF also leveraged online initiatives to strengthen opportunities to support foodservice operators using U.S. pork with free delivery promotions, menu promotions, and more.  

From September 11-24, 2023, USMEF conducted a Delivery Week online joint promotion with six restaurants (106 total branch stores) to feature U.S. pork in their traditional Korean-style menus. The promotion was exclusively for users of Korea’s top selling delivery app Baemin, and app users received delivery coupons with a qualifying U.S. pork meal purchase. The promotion was extremely successful, utilizing nearly 19,000 kg (41,900 pounds) of U.S. pork during the promotion period. 

Looking Ahead: 2024 Missions 

We have big plans for 2024 as we continue to deploy Checkoff dollars in both domestic and international markets to drive volume and value in areas where there is room for market growth. NPB will continue to diversify our international portfolio for U.S. pork and differentiate the brand from competitors. 

In addition to South Korea, NPB will be participating in 2024 missions to Colombia and Vietnam to continue to promote and differentiate U.S. pork while enhancing our relationship and results with our partners at USDA and USMEF and U.S. pork importers. 

Each trade mission allows us to build new business partnerships and deliver more U.S. pork to global markets. 


  1. USDA Press Release
  2. USMEF Full Year 2023 Export Highlights