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Milk shortage from FMD affecting local industries

A nationwide milk shortage caused by the severest foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in Korea’s history is affecting local confectionery and dairy industries, corporate sources said Sunday.

Sources from Seoul Milk, Namyang Dairy Product Co. and the Korea Bakers Association said that as of December, the reserves of powdered skim milk stood at just 938 tons or a 77.3 percent drop from 4,137 tons reported an year earlier.

The drop is directly related to the more than 34,000 heads of dairy cattle that were culled and buried since late November when the first FMD was reported in the country.

The animals destroyed account for around 8 percent of total milk cows raised in the country.

Seoul has ordered the culling of 3.29 million cattle, pigs, goats and deer so far to contain the FMD outbreak that has spread across most of the country at a cost of at least 2 trillion won ($1.7 billion) so far.

“Milk production has fallen about 10 percent since the outbreak, with powdered milk production dropping at a steeper rate,” a Seoul Milk executive said. He said such developments have led to problems in the manufacturing of basic products like butter.

Others said that the shortfall is starting to affect their ability to produce crackers, cakes, bread and ice cream, with plans underway to use imported frozen cream.

They said that unless the FMD outbreak comes under control soon, producers will have to contact foreign suppliers of powered and frozen milk to meet local demand. Such a move, however, may raise prices and turn away customers, which could hurt the industry as a whole. 

(Yonhap News)