Exports of chicken soup to China hurt by bird flu

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Exports of chicken soup to China hurt by bird flu

The country’s worst bird flu outbreak in years has hurt Korean exports of samgyetang, or chicken ginseng soup, to China.

Between November and December, exports of the popular soup fell more than 90 percent to 5.5 tons, equating to $31,544, according to data from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and the state-run Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation. It’s a sharp drop considering the figures in November stood at 71.9 tons and $332,097.

The December numbers are the lowest since Korea began shipping samgyetang to China last June. The product is exported in pouches and mainly sold in Chinese supermarkets and online shopping sites.

Industry sources say Korea’s recent bird flu outbreak played a major role in falling exports. An agreement between Korea and China stipulates that poultry used in samgyetang has to be produced at least 10 kilometers (6 miles) away from a region where diseases like bird flu have broken out. With Korean poultry farms suffering from their worst bird flu outbreak in years, China has essentially closed the door on samgyetang imports.

Even shipments that have already arrived in China are having a hard time getting on store shelves. They’ve been stuck in customs ever since China tightened inspections of Korean imports - even banning some products like bidets and entertainment content from entering the country - in apparent retaliation against Korea’s decision to deploy a controversial U.S. missile defense system known as Thaad.

“China continues to delay inspections of shipments that arrive in China,” said one industry source. “Advertising samgyetang has also become more difficult.”

BY CHOI HYUNG-JO [choi.hyungjo@joongang.co.kr]
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