600 pigs killed after foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in South Korea
Reuters in Seoul
South Korea has confirmed a case of foot-and-mouth disease at a pig farm, the country's first in more than three years, the agriculture ministry said yesterday.
The case comes as Asia's fourth-largest economy strives to contain a six-month outbreak of bird flu, which has pushed pork prices to multi-year highs due to demand for alternative meat.
The ministry said the disease was unlikely to be widespread as it was one of the three types that the country inoculated against. The outbreak hit unvaccinated pigs and 600 were being slaughtered to contain the disease.
Import levels are already high after the nation's worst outbreak of foot-and-mouth in 2010-2011 led to the culling of a third of its pig stock.
Many consumers have also opted for pork instead of chicken due to the bird flu outbreak, pushing up pork prices.
Three-year-high prices have led to forecasts of increased beef imports as consumers look for alternatives, according to government and industry sources.
South Korea imported nearly 170,000 tonnes of pork, mainly from the United States, Germany and Canada, in the first six months of this year, up 7 per cent year-on-year, according to customs data.