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Pork prices plunge even as officials say it is safe

Oct 21,2019
The wholesale price of pork plunged nearly 40 percent in October from a month earlier, as consumers shunned the meat amid the outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) here, data showed Saturday.

A kilogram of pork cost 2,969 won ($2.52) as of Friday morning, down 38 percent from a month earlier, according to the data compiled by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

Compared with 2018, the price surrendered 24.1 percent.

The retail price of a kilogram of pork belly, one of the most popular parts among Koreans, fell more than 13 percent from a month earlier to 17,810 won.

Korea has confirmed 14 cases of African swine fever at local pig farms since mid-September, when the country experienced its first outbreak of the disease.

No additional ASF infections from local pig farms were reported since the 14th case was confirmed Oct. 9.

In May, North Korea reported its first outbreak of the disease at a farm near its border with China to the World Organization for Animal Health.

Still, it remains unknown how the virus traveled into South Korea, although the disease normally spreads through direct contact with infected animals.

Earlier this week, the government announced its plan to mobilize soldiers and civilians to hunt down wild boars in designated areas near the border to keep the deadly hog disease from spreading further.

The virus is not harmful to humans but causes hemorrhagic fever in pigs that is almost always fatal. There is no antidote or vaccine, and the only known way to prevent the disease from spreading is a mass culling of affected livestock.

The ministry earlier expressed concerns over a possible rise in pork prices, as its quarantine officials had been culling pigs within a 3-kilometer (1.9-mile) radius of ASF-infected farms, leading to a tight supply.

Korea, Asia’s fourth-biggest pork consumer, has slaughtered and buried more than 150,000 pigs since the outbreak started.

Since the outbreak of the animal disease, the local price of pork had jumped more than 30 percent but later lost ground as consumers avoided consuming pork despite the fact that the virus is not harmful to people.

The Agricultural Ministry and agricultural organizations have been urging the public not to avoid pork due to ASF.

Yonhap