Salt prices surged 42.8 percent in August from a year earlier, the highest growth since 1981, government data showed Monday.
According to Statistics Korea, salt prices have increased for eight consecutive months this year. In August the prices jumped 13.6 percent from July.
Fears over the potential radiation leak from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant prompted hoarding among worried consumers earlier this year, government officials explained.
Also, due to heavy rainfall this year, salt production on the nation’s west coast has also been reduced, they said.
With a recent increase in vegetable prices, other key condiments essential for Korean food also increased nearly 20 percent on average, the statistics agency said.
The prices of chilly paste, soybean sauce and soybean paste ― the three main condiments for Korean food ― have increased 18.7 percent, 21.7 percent and 18.2 percent compared to a year earlier.
An almost 40 percent surge in the costs of raw materials such as chilly powder and beans is believed to have prompted the price surges.
The government warned that the runaway prices of core condiments could negatively affect kimchi preparation season in the winter.
By Lee Ji-yoon (firstname.lastname@example.org