SEOUL - After South Korea's worst outbreak of bird flu, prices of eggs are surging.
About 20 million birds, nearly a quarter of South Korea's poultry stock, have been culled to control the outbreak. Most of the birds culled are egg-laying hens.
The flu has spread in other parts of Asia as well, particularly in Japan.
In South Korea, the average retail price for 30 eggs has risen nearly 25 percent to 6,781 won ($5.68) since the outbreak began on Nov.18, - the highest in more than three years, according to state-run Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corp.
According to data from the institution, it is the highest month-on-month increase in egg prices in nearly a decade.
Besides the price increases, some stores are restricting egg purchases.
"We are limiting the amount of egg trays each customer can buy to one because of the egg supply shortage, and it seems it will last for five to six months so we will continue to restrict egg purchases for a while," said Lee Won-il, a manager at Nonghyup, one of the country's supermarket chains.
To ease the shortage, South Korea's agriculture ministry is seeking to import egg-laying chickens and eggs from the United States, Spain and New Zealand.
Analysts said the egg shortage is expected to last at least one year as it could take up to two years for egg and poultry industry to raise baby chickens and rebuild flocks.
"Economic losses caused by (avian influenza) is estimated to cost up to 1.4 trillion won ($1.17 billion) if 30 percent of Korea's poultry population gets infected," said Chung Min, an analyst at Hyundai Research Institute.