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Costly Dinners

Posted April. 14, 2004 22:00,   


Homemakers will have to stretch their wallets even further. On top of a price hike on major agricultural and fishery products over the last year, prices of general foods, including flour, instant noodles, bread, and others also rose because of a price hike in raw materials such as imported crops.

According to the April 14 report from Seoul Agricultural and Marine Products Corp, the average price of a 20-kg box of potatoes rose 3.4 times over the last week (April 5 -10) from 13,583 won at the same period of last year to 46,500 won. The price of peeled garlic rose 33.8 percent, from 2,998 won to 4,010 won per 1-kg pack, and oak mushrooms were priced at 20,200, up 33.2 percent from 15,167 won over the same period.

Prices for other products rose as well. Prices for sweet potatoes rose from 10,917 won to 16,400 won for a 10-kg package. For two kg of perilla leaves, it rose to 8,000 won from 5,917 won, and for four kg of cicely rose, it rose to 3,600 won from 2,217 won. Prices for Chinese cabbages, radish, and mushrooms dropped 60 to 70 percent, but they are still costly considering they skyrocketed two to three fold last year.

Ms. Yang Moon-young, a 31-year-old homemaker in Sanbon-dong, Gyeonggi Province, said, “It scares me how these prices rose so drastically just over a year,” and added, “I just get the bare minimum of stuff from the shop in front of my house and only when I need them.”

Also, the prices of processed foods and flour that common citizens enjoy are on the rise along with the recent price hike of imported crops, oil and shipping.

Daesang and Shin Dong Bang Corporation raised the price of starch by 12 to 18 percent. Dong Ah Flour Mills Co., Ltd., raised its flour price by 6.9 to 10.4 percent. Bakers such as Crown Bakery and Kirin followed the trend to raise their prices.

Kang Jeong-yong, the head of customer relations department at Lotte Chilsung Beverage Co., Ltd., said, “Food and beverage companies are raising the prices of their products because last year’s harvest was less than desirable and the shipping and distribution costs rose as well.”

Meanwhile, the price of food rose 5.8 percent from March of last year, surpassing a 3.1 percent overall rate of increase according to the current trend of the Consumer Price Index of March put out by National Statistical Office.

Na-Yeon Lee Im-Sook Ha larosa@donga.com artemes@donga.com