February 8, 2021
Egg shortages in South Korea due to bird flu outbreaks
South Korea is experiencing egg shortages because of multiple highly pathogenic H5N8 bird flu outbreaks in the country, as prices of eggs almost double from year-ago levels, Bloomberg reported.
Industries such as restaurants and bakeries have reported difficulties in sourcing local eggs for their business, even as local egg prices rise.
South Korean farmers are selling eggs at KRW 1,924 (~US$1.72; KRW 1,000 = US$0.89) for 10 extra-large eggs, which are close to double prices from last year. Korea's Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said retail prices for eggs jumped 43% to KRW 2,477 (~US$2.21), while chicken prices also increased 16%.
More than 25 million birds have been culled in South Korea since bird flu was detected in the country in October last year.
Lee Hyungwoo, a researcher at Korea Rural Economics Institute, said bird flu is spreading irregularly in the country compared to 2016/2017, so it is difficult for epidemiological investigations to be conducted by authorities.
He said prices for eggs could drop after the Lunar New Year holidays as there are only 18% of egg laying hens culled, which is lower than years prior.
The government has announced tariff exemptions for fresh eggs and egg products until June 30 to cool prices ahead of the upcoming Lunar New Year celebrations.
South Korea will also import more than 20 million eggs from the United States by February 10 to increase supply.
The agriculture ministry expects egg process to stabilise by end-February as restaurants and retail shops begin to use imported eggs.