Korean chicken farms to boycott fried chicken chains
Farmers angry at franchises raising prices despite the price of raw chicken plummeting since bird flu outbreak
By Lee Hyo-sik
Chicken farmers in South Korea are threatening to boycott fried chicken franchises, blaming BBQ, Kyochon and other chains for dampening poultry consumption by raising the prices of one of Korea’s favourite foods.
The Korea Poultry Association (KPA), which represents the interests of chicken farmers, said Tuesday that its members will begin a nationwide boycott against fried chicken chains unless they stop charging consumers more.
“The prices of raw chicken have plummeted since the avian influenza outbreak began early last week in the southwestern part of the country,” KPA Chairman Lee Hong-jae said. “More consumers have become reluctant to eat poultry. This sagging consumption has reduced the prices of raw chicken.”
Lee said the prices have dropped by nearly 20 per cent over the past week as producers ship more ahead of the peak summer season, arguing that fried chicken franchises have made things go from bad to worse.
“The rush to raise the prices of fried chicken has further cut consumption. In the past, we could not protest the franchises’ price hikes because they are big buyers,” the chairman said. “But this time, we will stage a boycott campaign to hurt their sales. It doesn’t make sense to charge consumers 20,000 won (US$18) or more for fried chicken because they get raw chicken from farms at a fixed rate for a considerable period of time.”
Since BBQ hiked fried chicken prices early May, Kyochon and other chains have followed suit. The companies said they have to charge more because of rising wages, rent and other operational issues.
Korea to import eggs from Thailand
Unlike raw chicken, the prices of eggs have been surging in the wake of the latest bird flu outbreak, which has affected many layer chicken farms.
To curb a rise in egg prices, the government has decided to import eggs from Thailand. In January when the first nationwide outbreak swept egg farms, the nation imported eggs from the United States to rein in soaring prices.
“An importer will bring in about 2 million eggs from Thailand on June 20,” said an official at the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “When these eggs are distributed, we expect prices will stabilise. The company will continue to import up to 2.3 million eggs every week.”
He said the eggs met all necessary sanitary and safety requirements in the Southeast Asian country, adding that quarantine officials here will thoroughly check them at the port of entry.
The import price will reach about 100 won per egg, including a five-per cent tariff, according to the official, who said the retail price for Thai eggs will be the one-third that of local ones. These days, a tray of 30 eggs costs about 10,000 won at discount stores.
Bakeries and restaurants, which have been grappling with soaring eggs prices, will likely be the main beneficiaries of the cheaper Thai eggs.