Commissary shoppers in South Korea will soon have access again to poultry products shipped in from the U.S., commissary officials announced last week.
A late 2014 ban on imported U.S. fresh poultry items such as fresh chicken, turkey and eggs left Defense Commissary Agency officials scrambling to source the products elsewhere, while still keeping up with the U.S. food standards they are required by law to meet.
Since shortly after the embargo started, officials have been sourcing the products from South Korea and Australia. The ban was put in place after breakouts of avian flu were reported in the western U.S.
Now, South Korean officials have decided to lift the embargo, and the commissary will again start carrying U.S.-sourced poultry in late August, officials said. They expect to be fully stocked by late September.
"This is welcome news for everyone associated with commissaries," Wayne Walk, DeCA's zone manager in South Korea said in a statement. "We're working with our suppliers to get frozen thighs, breasts, wings and whole chickens, eggs and other uncooked poultry products from the U.S. into stores as quickly as possible."
Shoppers likely won't see any price difference as a result of the change, officials said. Instead, officials are hoping simply to increase variety offered in stores, they said.
"Adding poultry products from the U.S. back to our stock selection is about giving our customers a wider variety of items to choose from," said Kevin Robinson, a DeCA spokesman.
Commissaries will continue to carry uncooked, non-frozen poultry and eggs from South Korea, officials said, even after U.S.-sourced products are back on shelves. The change also won't impact the source country for Thanksgiving and other holiday season turkeys, since orders for those were placed in April, they said.
The initial ban caused a major drop in poultry offerings in South Korea as officials found ways to source items from other distributors.
South Korea temporarily lifted the ban early this year, prompting DeCA to announce the return of U.S.-sourced poultry, only for it to be put back in place three weeks later.
-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.