July 15, 2009

South Korea's pork consumption down; chicken sales up

Pork consumption in South Korea has declined sharply in the past few months due to the AH1N1 global outbreak, previously known as swine flu, reports the Korea Times.


Pork has been the Koreans' favourite meat who cannot afford pricier homegrown beef, "hanwoo."


The daily also reported local households have switched to poultry for their major protein source, prompting livestock raisers to breed more chicken.


According to the National Statistical Office (NSO), the number of pigs raised by farming households reached 9.04 million nationwide in the second quarter of the year, down 1.4 per cent from the previous quarter. But the number of chickens is at 100 million as of the end of June, up 45.5 per cent from three months earlier. The number of chickens bred for eggs also rose 1.5 per cent to 906,000.


An NSO official said the poultry output jump is because of "surging international livestock feed costs, coupled with the widespread of the AH1N1 influenza in April sank pork consumption both at home and abroad even though it has recently rebounded to some extent on the easing of public concerns over the disease". The official also added that falling consumption has slashed pork prices and made many farmers abandon pig breeding.


The flu outbreak has also prompted Korean consumers to turn to chicken as an alternative to pork because of the latter's possible health risks and rising temperature toward the summer, the official said.


The number of hanwoo and other types of cattle raised for meat jumped 4.8 percent to 2.6 million in June from March, the steepest increase since the statistical office began compiling the data.


Despite higher prices, more Koreans are choosing to eat homegrown beef, shunning away from cheaper American and other imported beef after the mad cow disease controversy last year, indicating that local consumers have become richer and more health-conscious. The number of milk cows fell 2 per cent to 439,000 over the three-month period.

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