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Opposite Directions for Pork and Chicken Sales

by 5m Editor
14 July 2009, at 11:25am

SOUTH KOREA - Pork has been many Koreans' favorite source of protein for many years, particularly for those who cannot afford pricier homegrown beef, known as "hanwoo." But its consumption has declined sharply over the past few months since the outbreak of the H1N1 influenza A, formerly known as swine flu, across the globe.

According to The Korea Times, with a people associating possible health hazards with pork consumption, many households here have switched to poultry for their major protein source, prompting livestock raisers to breed more chicken.

According to the National Statistical Office (NSO), the number of pigs raised by farming households reached 9.04 million nationwide in the second quarter of the year, down 1.4 per cent from the previous quarter. But the number of chickens bred for meat stood at 100 million as of the end of June, up 45.5 per cent from three months earlier. The number of chickens bred for eggs also rose 1.5 per cent to 906,000.

"Because of surging international livestock feed costs, coupled with the widespread of the H1N1 influenza A in April, pork consumption both at home and abroad plunged even though it has recently rebounded to some extent on the easing of public concerns over the disease. The falling consumption has slashed pork prices and made many farmers abandon pig breeding," an NSO official said.

On the other hand, a growing number of consumers are turning to chicken as an alternative to pork because of the latter's possible health risks and rising temperature toward the summer, the official said. "Increasing seasonal demand for chicken in summer has also encouraged livestock raisers to breed more chicken."

The number of hanwoo and other types of cattle raised for meat jumped 4.8 per cent to 2.6 million in June from March, the steepest increase since the statistical office began compiling the data.

Despite higher prices, more Koreans are choosing to eat homegrown beef, shunning away from cheaper American and other imported beef after the mad cow disease controversy last year, indicating that local consumers have become richer and more health-conscious. The number of milk cows fell 2 per cent to 439,000 over the three-month period.