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Inflation hit highest level in 22 months

Posted May. 10, 2021 07:21,   

Updated May. 10, 2021 07:21


Prices of foods for dining-out including Jjajangmyeon (black bean sauce noodle), kimbab and hamburger have increased by the highest margin in 20 months as the price of agricultural and livestock produce, materials for restaurant menus, have soared.

According to the Statistics Korea on Sunday, the dining-out price index hit 113.02 in April, up 1.9 percent year on year. The growth rate marks the largest since June 2019 (1.9 percent). The dining-out price growth rate stood below the 1 percent level until last month, but has been picking up speed recently, as it surpassed the 1 percent mark in January, before hitting 1.3 percent in February, and 1.5 percent in March.

By item, the price of juk (porridge), which jumped 7.6 percent, has increased fastest among a total of 39 items surveyed by the Statistics Korea. It was followed by hamburger (6.1 percent), raw fish (6.0 percent), kimbab (4.4 percent), and bbokeumbap (stirred fried rice, 3.8 percent). However, the price of pizza (-2.9 percent), coffee (- 0.4 percent) and school meals (-100 percent) has declined from one year ago. “Dining-out prices have risen due to a price hike of raw materials including agricultural and livestock produce and rent,” a Statistics Office source said.

The international price of key foodstuffs including grain, meat and dairy products is also increasing. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, and the Korean Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the international food price index increased 1.7 percent in April from March. The price of grains jumped 1.2 percent due to concern over poor yield, while fat and oils including cooking oil and sesame oil rose 1.8 percent due to a reduction in production. Meat prices gained 1.7 percent due to expanding demand in East Asia.

As dining-out prices have increased significantly, the self-employed and consumers are shouldering growing burden. “On top of a hike in foodstuff prices, increased fees for delivery service applications, and sale of meal kits by conglomerates have combined to generate an environment where small merchants struggle to survive and make ends meet,” said a self-employed person who is running a restaurant in Seoul.

Choong-Hyun Song balgun@donga.com · Tae-Ho Hwang taeho@donga.com