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Tofu bucks the trend as food, drink prices soar

May 15,2018
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Prices of so-called manufactured foods, or food, drinks and ingredients that are not sold fresh, have been rising this year, with some of the most popular items like cola and instant rice seeing prices shoot up by as much as 10 percent year-on-year.

According to a report by the Korea Consumer Agency, which analyzed the prices of the 30 most popular manufactured food products in April, cola saw the biggest price hike. The average price of cola jumped up 11.9 percent compared to the previous year.

Instant rice came second with an 8.1 increase year-on-year, followed by sugar with a 6.8 percent hike. Fish cakes and milk prices both rose 5.8 percent from 2017. On the other hand, tofu prices dropped by an average 33.2 percent. Frozen dumpling prices were down 12.7 percent and ham by 4.7 percent.

“Price hikes were mainly spotted in grain-based processed food like instant rice, flour, noodles and seasonings such as sugar and soy sauce,” said the report.

The agency also made a month-on-month comparison and found that some product prices rose between March and April. The highest increase rate came from curry - 4.3 percent. Cup noodle prices rose 2.2 percent and cereal prices rose 2 percent during the same period.

Another comparison in the analysis regarded the price difference among different retail channels. Obviously, the cheapest retail channel was discount chains: It cost 116,895 won ($109.40) to buy the 30 items studied for the report.

This was 11.6 percent cheaper than department stores, where the same shopping list cost 132,163 won. Compared to small supermarkets like Lotte’s Lotte Super and Shinsegae’s Emart Everyday, it was 4.6 percent cheaper to shop at a discount chain like Emart. The combined price at discount chains was also 1.9 percent cheaper than at traditional markets.


BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]