Bad news for the South Korean egg market has American farmers smiling because it means they are going to sell a lot of eggs to this East Asian country of 50 million people.
South Korea is struggling with a massive outbreak of H5N6 strain bird flu which has devastates flocks there. As unfortunate as this is for Korean producers, it couldn’t come at a better time for American egg farmers, who are awash in an oversupply of eggs.
American egg production has skyrocketed after U.S, farmers successfully overcame their own bout with bird flu in 2015. Millions of birds were destroyed, but then flocks were aggressively replenished. Now with large numbers of healthy laying hens, American farmers are eager to sell off their product.
U.S. farmers destroyed 29 million chickens and turkeys in 2015. South Korea has suffered the loss of 26 million chickens this year.
This will be the first time the United States will ship fresh shell eggs to South Korea, said a spokesperson for the United States Department of Agriculture. The USDA says a contract for three to four million eggs to be shipped by air will be completed soon.
Announcement of the U.S.-South Korean egg deal has also provided some stability to the American market price for eggs, which had had slid to a low 79 cents per dozen in early January.
Most of the eggs will come from farms in Iowa, the nation’s leading egg producer. Iowa egg farmers say the new deal with South Korea could not have come at a better time.
January is traditionally a low-point for eggs sales in any year, but with the current glut of eggs, it’s been particularly difficult to sell out supplies.