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Chicken price surges amid supply shortage

The price of chicken in South Korea has surged in the past few months largely due to a supply shortage stemming from the massive culling of chickens in the wake of the avian influenza spreading, industry data showed Sunday.

The price of chicken stood at 888 won ($0.8) per kilogram on Dec. 22 when the bird flu was spreading at a faster pace but surged to 2,200 won per kg Tuesday, industry data showed Sunday.

Facing its worst avian influenza outbreak, South Korea has culled more than 33 million poultry since the first reported case last November, which represents more than double the previous record of 13.96 million destroyed in a 2014 outbreak.

In line with rising chicken prices, the country's major retailers, such as E-Mart and Homeplus, raised their retail prices by between 5 and 8 percent last week.

"Due to the massive culling of chickens and a movement ban on animals, chicken prices are rapidly rising," a Homeplus official said.

Earlier this month, the government raised the watch level to the highest vigilance in the country's disease control system and closed all livestock trading markets across the nation, with a movement ban on animals, until Feb. 28, as more foot-and-mouth disease cases were confirmed, raising concerns over a nationwide spread of the animal epidemic.

In contrast, egg prices have been on a sharp decline as store shelves were well stocked with eggs under stable supply.

The prices for a set of 30 eggs stood at 7,667 won Friday, a sharp fall from 9,543 won on Jan. 12.

The egg supply and prices appeared to be stabilizing after just a few weeks of severe shortage, helped partly by speedy imports.

The spread of avian influenza beginning in mid-November had greatly reduced the egg supply in the country, forcing supermarket chains to limit purchases per individual and raise prices at the same time. The government stepped in to stabilize the supply, allowing quick imports from the United States. (Yonhap)