South Korea's pig meat imports will drop by 16% in 2012 from their record high of an estimated 580,000 metric tons in 2011, according to reports.

The 2011 rise, caused by an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, is expected to ease off as the country re-establishes its herds. Roughly 3.3 million animals were culled in the aftermath of the outbreak. "The industry is steadily rebuilding," said USDA attachés in South Korea, noting that sow numbers are increasing by 20,000 a month. A rise of 15% in feed prices, year on year, caused by strong grain markets "has not discouraged farmers from rebuilding their herds, since swine and pork prices are at record levels."

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Even with the drop, imports are still expected to remain above normal levels through 2012, at 490,000 metric tons. Pork imports for 2010 were 382,000 metric tons.