A group of 10 influential South Korean bloggers recently received a total immersion in U.S. beef, enjoying a four-part program that involved cooking with American beef, product tasting, a chef’s cooking demonstration, and a beef sampling event for the bloggers’ visitors. Funding for the program was provided through the USDA Market Access Program (MAP) and the beef checkoff program.

The blogger group, which is now in its third year of participation in U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF)-Korea beef and pork programs, kicked off the session with a cooking demonstration at the trendy Eatry restaurant in Seoul. Owner-chef Kim Wook-sung explained to the bloggers why he prefers to serve U.S. beef before preparing dishes using braised short rib, beef carpaccio and dry-aged New York strip steak.

Prior to the cooking demonstration, a visiting delegation from Nebraska met with the bloggers, and Greg Ibach, director of Nebraska’s Department of Agriculture, gave a presentation on beef production in his state.

“This event has been a great opportunity to share our commitment to the Korean market,” says Ibach. “We hope the bloggers will help to distribute the story of U.S. beef through their posting.”

“Since more and more consumers want to know the story behind the food they eat, it was a great opportunity for the bloggers to meet directly with producers and learn how they produce beef,” says Jihae Yang, USMEF-Korea director. “Considering that more than 98% of the ranches in Nebraska are family-owned, this is a powerful message to give the bloggers and their readers.”

The participating bloggers reach an average of 4,000 readers/day.

South Korea is a top-five market for U.S. beef exports. In 2011, exports jumped 37% in volume and 32% in value, reaching 339.6 million lbs., and valued at $686 million.