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Korea’s Cabbage Shortage Having Domino Effect in China

Posted October. 14, 2010 11:24,   


Korea’s cabbage shortage and mass purchase of the vegetable from China are raising cabbage prices in Guangzhou and other Chinese regions, the Guangzhou Daily of China said Wednesday.

Cabbage prices in Shandong province have soared due to massive purchases by Korean merchants, the daily said, while those of other vegetables remain stable.

Cabbage prices jumped 18 percent to 5.2 yuan (78 cents) per kilogram from 4.4 yuan (66 cents) in mid-September. Chinese cabbage produced in Shandong and Yunnan typically go to southern China, but Shandong cabbage went to Korea this time to trigger the price surge, the report added.

The daily said Korean merchants have flocked to Shandong to make reserve purchases of cabbage after Seoul eased import regulations to tackle Korea’s shortage. Chinese vendors are taking advantage of this, with transaction prices of Shandong cabbage surging to around 850 yuan (127 U.S. dollars) per ton, up from 550 yuan (82 dollars).

This is an exaggeration, however, since a small volume of cabbage is imported to Korea mostly from China’s northeastern provinces of Jilin and Heilongjiang. Moreover, Shandong cabbage is unsuitable for making kimchi.

A source at the Qingdao office of the Korea Agro-Fisheries Trade Association said, “Korean cabbage types are grown in Shandong but are planted only because of contracts with kimchi factories in Korea. So most Shandong cabbage is of the Chinese variety.”

Japan also saw vegetable prices jump 50 percent from last year due to a hot summer and lack of rainfall. The Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun said Wednesday that as of Saturday, the prices of 14 major agricultural products rose 40 percent from a year ago.

The prices of tomato and green onions climbed the most, rising 44 and 40 percent per kilogram to 880 (10.76 dollars) and 1,135 yen (13.88 dollars), respectively.

In Korea, the price of cabbage is falling thanks to increased supply. The Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry said the wholesale price of a head of cabbage fell to 3,723 won (3.30 dollars) Wednesday from Tuesday, and retail price dropped 900 won (80 cents) to 7,600 won (6.80 dollars).

The wholesale price of radish fell 403 won (40 cents) to 3,145 won (2.80 dollars).

mungchii@donga.com alwaysj@donga.com