U.S. beef sales exceeded those for both Australian and domestic meat a month after sales began in major discount outlets, industry sources said yesterday.

Sources said Lottemart, E-mart and Homeplus - Korea’s three major discount outlets - reported combined sales of 1,276.1 tons of U.S. beef from Nov. 27 to Friday.

Sales of Australian beef, which had been the market leader in the absence of U.S. meat, stood at 1,128.2 tons for an on-year drop of 16-17 percent, while demand for Korean beef gained 5 percent compared to the year before to 712.2 tons, it said.

“Although Australian beef has been hurt, sales of U.S. beef at large stores across the country fueled consumption of meat and helped Korean meat and pork,” said a retail industry source. Sales of pork, which is cheaper than beef, increased by 20 to 35 percent, depending on stores, to 3,515.5 tons in the one-month period.

E-mart sold 570 tons of U.S. beef, while Homeplus and Lottemart sold 460.6 tons and 245.5 tons, respectively.

Korea opened its market fully to U.S. beef in late June, but large retail outlets did not handle the meat until Nov. 27 over fears of protests from civic groups. Yonhap