The Korea Herald


S. Korea’s food prices hike to third highest among OECD states

Market feels prolonged impact from record-long monsoon rains, typhoons

By Bae Hyunjung

Published : Sept. 16, 2020 - 16:39

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(Yonhap) (Yonhap)

South Korea’s food price inflation last month ranked the third highest among members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, due to the record-long summer monsoon season soon followed by consecutive typhoons, data showed Wednesday.

The prices for groceries and nonalcoholic beverages for August was up 6.6 percent from a year earlier, according to data compiled by the OECD and Statistics Korea.

This on-year rise was third highest among the 22 OECD member states that announced their inflation indexes for the corresponding month. While Hungary and Mexico topped the list respectively with 7.9 percent and 7.5 percent, Chile, Iceland, and the United States were ranked next to Korea. Ireland came last with its food prices contracting 1.8 percent on-year.

The key factors boosting Korea’s food prices were heavily consumed agricultural goods such as Chinese cabbage and sesame leaves.

Sweet potatoes, which were to be harvested in late August, received the hardest blow from the heavy monsoonal rains that swept across the nation from late June to mid-August. The crop marked 56.9 percent in consumer price inflation in August, hitting a 30-year high since the 57 percent on-year rise observed in November 1990.

Other key agricultural products such as zucchini, sesame leaves, tomatoes, onions and white radish all marked more than 40 percent in on-year inflation.

Such an uptrend in market prices is anticipated to prolong to a certain extent in September, as contracted supplies fail to meet demand ahead of the Chuseok holiday at the end of the month.

According to the state-run Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corp., the wholesale price of tomatoes as of Tuesday continued to remain more than twice as expensive as last year’s figure.

By Bae Hyun-jung (