SEOUL: South Korea will import fresh eggs from the United States for the first time as the country is suffering from a supply shortage of eggs amid its worst-ever avian influenza outbreak. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs announced on Monday that 1.64 million American eggs will be imported by a Korean retailer, which has already signed a deal for egg import from the U.S., by air as early as this weekend. It said the country is ready to bring eggs from the U.S. and Spain as the quarantine and hygiene procedures have been completed. There are 33 fresh and processed egg export facilities in the U.S., and those who receive approval from Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety will ship eggs to Korea, according to the agriculture ministry.
A cargo aircraft can load up to 50 tons or 700,000 eggs for one flight as a packed egg weighs about 60 to 70 grams. However, the egg import would not be able to ease the shortage of eggs in Korea where millions of chickens and ducks have been culled in less than a month since the highly pathogenic avian influenza virus strain was first reported on November 16. The nation’s daily supply of eggs has been cut to 13 million from an average of 43 million before the bird flu outbreak, and egg prices have continued to rise, hitting a record high of 8,025 won ($6.65) per 30-egg carton on January 4, as the outbreak is yet to be contained.