U.S. beef will be back on South Korean dinner tables as early as October, following South Korea's decision yesterday to drop its ban on U.S. beef, in place since December 2003. South Korea's Ministry of Ag and Forestry says U.S. beef is now safe for consumption following inspections of U.S. processing facilities. The move is only a partial lifting of restrictions, however, as only boneless meat from cattle younger than 30 months of age will be allowed into South Korea.

A Korea Times article says studies show a large number of consumers prefer Korean beef over foreign imports. And the government says "it won't be easy for U.S. beef to win back consumers, as the trade system is more complicated than it was prior to 2003."

According to a Korea Rural Economic Institute report, the price of domestic Korean beef is expected to drop by as much as 39% with the availability of U.S. beef. Korea was the third-largest market for U.S. beef before the import ban, and accounted for almost 70% of overall beef imports to South Korea in 2003.
-- Joe Roybal