- Title: U.S. eggs crack Korean market as Seoul fights worst bird flu outbreak
- Date: 23rd January 2017
- Summary: SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA (JANUARY 23, 2017) (REUTERS) EGGS AND FRESH FOOD SECTION IN SUPERMARKET VARIOUS OF SUPERMARKET STAFF PUTTING TRAYS OF EGGS ONTO SHELF U.S. WHITE-SHELLED EGGS ON DISPLAY WOMEN LOOKING AT U.S. EGGS WOMAN HOLDING U.S. EGG LETTERS ON EGG TRAY READING (Korean): "WHITE EGG/ COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: U.S." MAN LOOKING AT TRAY OF U.S. EGGS SIGN BOARDING READING (English and Korean): "DIRECTLY IMPORTED BY FLIGHT", "EGGS SELECTED BY UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE (USDA) STANDARDS", "SAFETY INSPECTION BY THE MINISTRY OF FOOD AND DRUG SAFETY PASSED", "PRICE 8,490 WON" STAFF PUTTING EGG TRAY ONTO RACK/ CUSTOMER TAKING EGG TRAY (SOUNDBITE) (Korean) 28-YEAR-OLD SOUTH KOREAN, KWON SOON-CHEOL, SAYING: "I've heard before that in bakery industry has used the white eggs a lot. So I do not feel much discomfort in the differences between the local and U.S. imported eggs. I'm willing to buy U.S. eggs." PEOPLE LOOKING AT LOCAL EGGS SECTION KOREAN BROWN-SHELLED EGGS ON DISPLAY VARIOUS OF 64-YEAR-OLD SOUTH KOREAN, PARK HEE-KIL, TAKING OUT LOCAL EGGS FROM SHELF (SOUNDBITE) (Korean) 64-YEAR-OLD SOUTH KOREAN, PARK HEE-KIL, SAYING: "U.S.-origin eggs are good, but I prefer to use Korean eggs because the Lunar New Year holiday is a Korean traditional holiday. This is my point of view. Even if local eggs are more expensive, I would buy them. That's not because U.S. eggs are bad. I believe they were imported in good condition. I think I would buy the local eggs than the imported eggs even if I had to pay a little bit more." EXTERIOR OF KOREA EGG DISTRIBUTION ASSOCIATION BUILDING SIGN READING (Korean and English): "KOREA EGG DISTRIBUTION ASSOCIATION" DIRECTOR OF THE KOREA EGG DISTRIBUTION ASSOCIATION, HA DO-BONG, SPEAKING (SOUNDBITE) (Korean) DIRECTOR OF THE KOREA EGG DISTRIBUTION ASSOCIATION, HA DO-BONG, SAYING: "Now, we are facing a situation of serious egg shortage. This situation seems to last until early next year. So there is no other option than to import eggs until the supply and price of eggs become stabilized."
- Embargoed: 6th February 2017 09:24
- Keywords: south korea eggs bird flu U.S. imported eggs supermarket
- Location: SEOUL, INCHEON, SOUTH KOREA
- City: SEOUL, INCHEON, SOUTH KOREA
- Country: South Korea
- Reuters ID: LVA00160AWCAT
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: U.S. white-shelled eggs landed on South Korean supermarket shelves beside local brown-shelled eggs on Monday (January 23) as the country scrambled to boost imports to relieve a shortage amid its worst-ever bird flu outbreak.
Some 6 million eggs, mainly from the United States, are set to hit the shelves this week as South Korea launched emergency import measures after egg prices shot up 70 percent ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday this weekend.
Thirty U.S. eggs cost 8,470 won ($7.27) at Lotte Mart, one of South Korea's major discount stores, which began selling the imports on Monday.
That was down from the average retail price for local eggs of 9,285 won as of January 20. Prices stood at around 5,438 won when the first bird flu case was confirmed in November, according to state-run Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Corp.
Some Korean consumers still a little reserved towards buying the white-shelled eggs, preferring the brown-shelled local eggs.
"U.S.-origin eggs are good, but I prefer to use Korean eggs because the Lunar New Year holiday is a Korean traditional holiday. This is my point of view. Even if local eggs are more expensive, I would buy them. That's not because U.S. eggs are bad. I believe they were imported in good condition. I think I would buy the local eggs than the imported eggs even if I had to pay a little bit more," said Park Hee-kil, a 64-year-old lady who was shopping at a Lotte Mart store in Seoul.
In the wake of the bird flu epidemic, Asia's fourth-largest economy culled more than 32 million farm birds, or nearly a fifth of its poultry population, mostly egg-laying hens.
The country's egg production is expected to decline 12.7 percent to 559,000 tonnes in 2017 from a year earlier, according to the state-run Korea Rural Economics Institute (KREI).
"Now, we are facing a situation of serious egg shortage. This situation seems to last until early next year. So there is no other option than to import eggs until the supply and price of eggs become stabilized," said Ha Do-bong, director of the Korea Egg Distribution Association.
The Korean government expected a total of 1,500 tonnes, or roughly 25 million eggs, to be imported mainly from the United States before the holiday season. That compared with a total of 1,856 tonnes of egg products worth about $12 million imported last year, according to customs office data.
As of Sunday (January 22), 444 tonnes of shell eggs and 217 tonnes of egg products had been shipped to Korea since January 5, according to the agriculture ministry.
The ministry also plans to import a total of 200,000 baby chickens and parent stock for egg-laying hens from five bird flu-free countries, including the United States, Australia and Spain, to rebuild flocks.
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