Sales of imported beef are rising steeply in South Korea as the country has been struggling with foot-and-mouth disease and avian influenza, industry data showed Sunday.
According to the data by leading retail chain E-Mart, imported beef sales rose 12 percent during the Feb. 5-9 period from a week ago, while those of Korean beef tumbled 19.6 percent.
The decline came as the fifth foot-and-mouth disease outbreak was confirmed earlier in the day following the first infection on Feb. 5. Nearly 800 cows have been culled in the past week.
The South Korean government raised the watch level to the highest vigilance in the country's disease control system Thursday, temporarily closing all livestock trading markets across the nation.
Sales of imported pork also jumped 16.9 percent over the same period, outpacing those of locally produced pork, which gained 5.7 percent.
"The supply of beef is not yet at risk, but the prices can go up if the situation gets worse," said an official from a discount store.
At the same time, prices of Korean beef have generally been on the rise, with a kilogram of beef hitting 78,000 won (US$68), according to the Korea Institute for Animal Products Quality Evaluation.
As the avian influenza has been spreading in the country for nearly three months, prices of chickens rose 13.1 percent over the recent 10 days. (Yonhap)