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South Korea hikes foreign egg imports to cope with supply shortages

South Korea hikes foreign egg imports to cope with supply shortages

SEOUL: Imports of foreign eggs and their processed products to South Korea have surged this year, government data showed Friday, as the country is dealing with the worst supply shortage caused by the spread of avian influenza.

The inbound shipments of fresh eggs and processed products reached a total of 1,331 tons from Jan. 1 to Feb. 15, according to data by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, and Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs.

The figure is estimated to more than triple the shipments tallied for the first two months of last year, which stood at 245 tons. Korea has purchased 638 tons of fresh eggs and 703 tons of processed egg products this year to date. The outbreak of avian influenza has squeezed the domestic egg supply since November last year, prompting supermarkets to cap the amount of eggs a consumer can buy per purchase and the government to step in to stabilize the supply by easing trade barriers with certain countries.

The authorities began to allow traders to import fresh eggs for the first time, from New Zealand, Australia, Britain and three other countries, to increase supply.

Last month, the agriculture and food ministry added Thailand, the United States, the Netherlands, Germany and a few others to the list of countries to allow purchases of egg processed products, a key ingredient for pastries, ice cream and sausages.

Piles of boxes containing eggs imported from the United States are stacked for quarantine at a depot in Osan, south of Seoul, on Feb. 3, 2017.