South Korea's poultry industry was battered by the rapid spread of a highly pathogenic strain of bird flu that left more than two million chickens and ducks culled, but there has been almost no change in processed or raw chicken prices and consumption.
Since H5N6, a new type of virus, was detected for the first time in South Korea on November 16, 2.12 million chickens and ducks have been slaughtered at 75 farms, the agriculture ministry said.
The ministry asked every provincial government to run emergency centers and strengthen disinfection, as the virus spread quickly with a higher mortality rate than previous cases caused by H5N1 and H5N8.
Quarantine authorities now consider imposing a nationwide standstill to restrict the movement of people or livestock at all poultry farms, blaming migratory birds for spreading the highly contagious H5N6 virus.
Yet, supermarket chains and distributors have reported almost no change in chicken consumption and prices. South Korea's largest retailer, E-mart, said chicken sales from November 11-26 rose 27 percent on-year.
Harim, which accounts for 30 percent of South Korea's processed chicken market, said it has kept supply and demand in balance because the new strain of avian influenza has been detected mostly at layer chicken farms.
The virus was detected first in Emseong, 90 kilometers (54 miles) south of Seoul. Health authorities have been put on high alert because the virus killed six people in China.
Aju News Lim Chang-won = email@example.com