U.S. beef has been making progress in the Korean marketplace. Troy Stangarone reports (Sales of U.S. beef take off as it goes mainstream):
One month after returning to the shelves of three of Korea’s major retailers, sales of U.S. beef rose to the top in December. Retailers E-Mart, Lottemart, and Homeplus had withheld sales of U.S. beef prior to November over concerns of consumer backlash stemming from the beef protests earlier in 2008. The most recent sales figures indicate that U.S. beef was the leader with 1,276.1 tons followed by Australian beef with sales of 1,128.7 tons, and domestic "hanwoo" with sales of 712.2 tons. In addition, almost seven months after the Ministry of Agriculture published notification in its gazette that U.S. beef would be allowed unrestricted access as long as specified risk materials were removed, the Constitutional Court ruled that the notification was legal. Following the notification, four opposition parties—the Democratic Party, the New Progressive Party, the Democratic Labor Party, and the Liberty Forward Party—had filed a joint petition to have the notification overturned.
In its ruling the court said that, "Given international sanitation criteria set by the World Organization for Animal Health and other concerned information, the notification cannot be seen as a measure apparently against the government’s duty to keep its citizens safe." The court also noted that, "With no confirmation that U.S. beef causes health risks, the notification cannot be seen as a measure which might jeopardize the health of citizens." The court’s decision was praised by conservative civic groups, while progressive groups said the ruling was politically based and undermined the people’s confidence in the Constitutional Court.