The U.S. exported 14 million eggs to South Korea in January as the nation continues to deal with a widespread avian influenza outbreak.
On January 30, members of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA AMS) updated the United Egg Producers on U.S. egg exports during the egg industry group’s meeting in Atlanta. Jeff Waite, a representative of AMS, said the two countries reached an agreement in early January. After weeks of airborne shipments, he said, eggs will start arriving by sea soon.
South Korea, one of many Asian nations affected by the current outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), is suffering from its worst-ever HPAI outbreak. South Korean news agency Yonhap reports the country has culled more than 30 million chickens since November in response to the outbreak.
In response to massive egg shortages driving up food prices, South Korea and the U.S. reached an agreement on January 8 to allow the first-ever imports of US eggs to the country. Koreans eat about 250 eggs per capita, or about 12.7 billion eggs per year.
A year after the US egg industry was rocked by avian influenza, the disease is spreading around the world. Currently, it is affecting commerical poultry in Europe, Asia and South America. HPAI is believed to be spread to commercial poultry farms by migratory birds.
In January, H5N2 avian influenza was detected in a hunter-harvested wild duck in Montana. So far, it has not spread to poultry farms in the US, but the USDA is stressing continued vigilance.