The first batch of eggs from the United States arrived in South Korea Saturday to ease a supply shortage caused by avian influenza that left a record number of chickens and ducks culled.
A Korean Air cargo plane unloaded about 100 tons of fresh American eggs in an airport west of Seoul, after South Korea eased trade restrictions to import fresh eggs and egg products with zero percent duties.
The suspension of tariff duties expires on June 30. This is South Korea's first bulk purchase of foreign fresh eggs that will be allocated through state-controlled bodies.
The worst outbreak of bird flu has ravaged chicken farms, causing a serious short supply of eggs. South Korea's daily egg output has decreased by more than 20 percent. Bakery chains and food manufacturers using eggs have stopped or reduced the production of some products.
Consumers and distributors have hoarded eggs on the assumption that prices would stay high throughout the first quarter of this year due to a sharp fall in laying hen numbers.
Since H5N6, a new type of virus, was detected first on November 16, more than 30 million chickens and ducks have been slaughtered and buried.