It's that time of the year when Koreans start preparing gifts that'll be used to celebrate the upcoming Chuseok holiday, also known as the Korean Thanksgiving.
Retailers have already started displaying gift sets that are sold at various prices. However, this year, shoppers may want to think twice before making a purchase.
"Vegetables are so expensive this year, so I am afraid of going grocery shopping. Also, I usually send a gift set of fruits to acquaintances ahead of Chuseok, but I'm considering opting for processed goods this year."
Drought and heavy rainfall during the summer led to price hikes for both vegetables and fruits, increasing the financial burden on customers."
On average, a household is expected to spend between 200 to 300 U.S. dollars to celebrate Chuseok. But according to the Korea Agro Fisheries and Food Trade Corporation, the price range has jumped by more than five percent this year, compared to 2017.
Apple prices rose by more than seventy percent compared to last year.
Other staple ingredients widely sought after during the Chuseok holiday such as spinach, white radish, napa cabbage and pears have become more expensive.
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"Compared to last year, sales of fruit sets are sluggish so far this year."
In response, the Ministry of Economy and Finance laid out plans late August to increase the supply of 14 of the most popular food items.
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"Napa cabbage harvest was bad due to the heat wave, especially by the end of August. Back then, the retail price of napa cabbage went up to about seven dollars per head. However, with the government introducing measures it dropped by 23-percent in two weeks."
A local expert called for more proactive measures from the government in order to stabilize food prices.
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"Increasing supply falls short of lowering prices of these items. Providing financial support to privately owned retailers could help recover their profit margin."
He emphasized that more coordination is needed between the businesses and authorities to optimally manage prices and supplies.
SEO Eun-kyung, Arirang News