Local egg prices were rising again with the country yet to stabilize the market following the latest outbreak of bird flu, officials said Thursday.
The Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corp. said a carton of 30 eggs was priced at an average of 8,027 won (US$7.17) as of Wednesday, up 61.3 percent from last year.
Egg prices had shot up following the avian influenza (AI) epidemic from November last year, going as high as the 9,000 won range before falling back to the 7,000 won range in February after the government expedited imports.
Officials say the recent price hike is unusual for the summer season when the demand for eggs usually falls. The AI epidemic has slowed down as well with no new cases being reported since early last month.
Officials suspect it has more to do with anticipated demand.
"Supermarkets and giant retailers used to have a three-day supply of eggs before the AI outbreak. Now they only get a single day's supply," an official at the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said. "Because of such uncertainties about stable supply, demand has escalated temporarily, leading to the price increase."
Egg farms are still insecure since not many have been allowed to restart breeding egg-laying chickens. As of Wednesday, only eight of 381 AI-stricken egg farms were given approval. It will be another three to four months before the rest of the farms are approved, officials said.
The government is trying to prevent hoarding, dispatching inspectors to markets and retailers around the country. The inspection is scheduled to be completed on Thursday, and there were no problems reported, officials said.
The ministry last week said it will expedite egg imports from Denmark, Thailand and the Netherlands to help stabilize the rising prices. (Yonhap)