The worst outbreak of bird flu took its toll on food production this week, prompting South Korea's top franchise bakery chain to stop selling muffins and 18 other products using eggs.
SPC, the country's major food and confectionery group, blamed egg shortages and rising prices for discontinuing production temporarily at its Paris Baguette bakery chain with more than 3,000 franchise outlets.
SPC is the first food company to take such measures since a highly pathogenic strain of bird flu was detected for the first time in South Korea on November 16. Other food manufacturers using eggs and egg products are expected to take similar measures, reflecting the endless culling of layer chickens.
A more significant issue appears to be on the side of both consumers and distributors who have hoarded eggs on the assumption that prices would stay high throughout the first quarter of next year. Laying hen numbers and egg production have already declined sharply, but government officials admit there is no short-term solution.
Since H5N6, a new type of virus, was detected first on November 16, more than 20 million chickens and ducks have been slaughtered and buried. H5N6 has caused a higher mortality rate than previous cases. Health authorities have accused migratory birds of spreading the virus.