From egg to chicken: New price hikes in store

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From egg to chicken: New price hikes in store

Egg prices are settling down but higher chicken prices come as an aftershock.

Major discounters E-Mart and Lotte Mart will raise prices of whole chickens by 5 to 6 percent, the retailers said Wednesday.

While chicken at E-Mart is sold at 4,980 won ($4.34) per kilogram (2.2 lbs), prices will rise to as high as 5,300 won. Lotte Mart will increase chicken prices from 4,900 won to 5,200 won. Another discount retailer, Homeplus, is also considering raising the price of chicken.

The raise is largely due to the increasing cost of wholesale chickens. In the last month, costs have risen 80 percent.

The Korea Institute for Animal Products Quality Evaluation said Wednesday that the wholesale price of chicken, which fell to as low as 888 won per kilogram on Dec. 22, recovered to 1,100 won last month then jumped to 1,992 won as of Tuesday.

Also, the demand for chicken is recovering as the avian influenza that swept the country retreats. Increasing demand means the possibility of a further price increase.

The trend follows settling egg prices. Due to the outbreak of AI, a tray of 30 non-antibiotic eggs, which previously sold for 6,000 won at Lotte Mart, went for 8,200 won per tray in December. However, under government efforts to stabilize egg supplies, including through imports, the price has dropped to 7,480 won as of Jan. 26.

The new variable in the market is the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, which could affect prices of beef and pork. If the disease spreads to pork farms, a rise in meat prices will be inevitable. If consumers turn to buy chicken as an alternative to beef or pork, increased demand again will push up chicken prices. “If the foot-and-mouth disease is not settled, prices of processed foods such as ham and sausages may be impacted as well in the long term,” a source from the retail industry said.


BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]

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