March 16, 2010


South Korea pork exports slump in February



South Korea's pork exports fell to nil in February due to frozen demand in the wake of the recent outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) at domestic livestock farms, the customs office said.


According to data provided by the Korea Customs Service, South Korea could not export any pork meat including fresh and frozen products last month, compared with 69 tonnes it sold overseas the previous month.


 This is the first time that no exports have been reported since July 2000 when the nation was also hit by FMD.


South Korea was affected by the highly contagious animal disease in 2000 and 2002, with 15 and 16 cases reported in those years, respectively.


Outbreaks were confirmed again in January this year, which prompted its major consumer countries such as Japan to ban the sales of Korean meat in their markets. It also caused the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) to delay its move to give South Korea "FMD-free" status.


The disease affects all cloven-hoofed animals such as cattle, hogs and goats, causing blisters on the feet and mouth of livestock and sometimes death.


Market experts worry that such sluggish meat exports will continue for the time being though the government is likely to announce an official end to the spread of the disease among livestock here.


Last year, South Korea exported 6,821 tonnes of pork, while importing 294,935 tonnes of the meat worth around US$672 million, according to the customs office.

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