August 11, 2011


South Korea's egg prices take an upturn



Following a period of relative stability, South Korea's egg prices have quickened gains, which may undermine the government's price control efforts with the forthcoming Chuseok holidays.


The average wholesale price of 10 special class eggs, weighing roughly over 60g, rose up to KRW1,690 (US$1.57), reported the Korea Poultry Association on Wednesday (Aug 10). This is a mere KRW40 shortfall from the all-time high record in April, when the outbreak of Avian Influenza (AI) and persistent cold wave pushed prices up to KRW1,730 (US$1.61). Compared to the same period last year, it is a 38.5% increase.


Supermarkets are raising the retail prices of eggs, in line with the spike in wholesale prices. The listing price for a 30-egg carton at E-Mart and Lotte Mart, Korea's leading hypermarts, mounted 20% from KRW4,380-4,980 (US$4.07-4.62) in August last year to KRW5,300-5,950 (US$4.92-5.52). Egg prices had quieted since April, falling to as low as KRW1,470 (US$1.36) on July 25 until the sudden gain.


One reason for this abrupt upturn is Korea's unpredictable weather, ranging from monsoons and torrential rain to extreme heat, which is stressing out laying hens and lowering output. Another factor may be the slow recovery from AI, as the disposal of 1.5 million laying hens at the beginning of the year chopped down the number of laying hens by 30% compared to last year.


The government is alarmed by forecasts that egg prices will climb up even further. As the Chuseok holiday approaches, surging demand for eggs can cause prices to reach up to KRW200 (US$0.19) per egg, say experts.

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