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HAM-burger Popular in South Korea Debut

by 5m Editor
18 December 2009, at 9:43am

SOUTH KOREA - Jerry Seinfeld might wonder: “Why aren’t hamburgers made out of ham?“ Now, if you happen to pass through South Korea, you can find out what a real “ham“ burger tastes like when you stop in a GS25 convenience store for a burger made with 100 per cent US pork.

GS25 is the second-largest convenience store chain in Korea with 3,900 outlets. Its parent company, CVS, sent representatives to the United States in August 2009 as part of a “Pork Business Development Team“ led by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF). Born out of that initiative is “John’s Burger,“ a new convenience food item targeted at 20- to-30 year-old office workers in search of a quick and affordable lunch at GS25 stores.

“Since we engaged in this initiative and took an in-depth tour of US pork plants, it gave me crystal-clear confidence in why we should procure pork patties from the United States,“ said Hee-hun Han, Retail Daily Food Merchandising Team assistant manager for GS retail stores.

This marks the first time GS25 has launched a premium burger targeted at its price-sensitive clientele. The new John’s Burger is priced anywhere from 1,000 to 1,600 Korean won ($0.86 to $1.38 at current exchange rates) more than any other burgers sold by GS25, but that didn’t diminish the positive consumer response to the new offering.

During a four-day promotion that covered last weekend (11-14 December), the GS25 chain sold an average of 3,522 of the new sandwiches per day at a limited number of stores, even though two of the days fell on the weekend when there were fewer office workers. With support from the Pork Checkoff, USMEF partnered with GS25 and D&J Biz, a US pork patty importer, to share costs for in-store displays and a free beverage with purchase of a John’s Burger during the promotion.

“The introduction of the John’s Burger is quite successful at the beginning stage,“ said Mr Han, who noted that sales exceeded expectations.

“We are encouraged by the reception to a premium-priced US pork sandwich among customers who are typically very cost-sensitive,“ said J.R. Lee, marketing manager for USMEF-Korea. “We will continue to aggressively work with the convenience store channel here in Korea and believe that, over time, other convenience store chains will see the success of this product and it will lead to more opportunities for US pork sales here.“