Prices of fruit, vegetables and meat are spiking in stores and markets across the country ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday.
According to the Korea Agro-Fisheries and Food Trade Corporation, people are expected to pay about 16 percent more for groceries this year.
When buying food for a Charye table to pay respect to their ancestors… South Koreans who shop at traditional markets will spend an average of 230 U.S. dollars.
But when shopping at a large retail store, the same items needed for a Charye table will cost around 330 dollars.
"Prices of apples and pears are seeing big jumps at over
143 percent and 43 percent, respectively
While vegetables like spinach are nearly 60 percent up."
Prices of eggs shot up as well by almost 18 percent at retail stores, but prices are much higher at traditional markets.
Meanwhile, costs of other essentials for the holiday feast have dropped.
Radish prices are down 45 percent and napa cabbage is 33 percent cheaper.
Market watchers say the surge in grocery prices is due to a poor harvest last year.
"Last year's harvest was hit by a record long monsoon and a series of typhoons, leading to a shortfall in supplies. That's why prices are surging. Also, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were not enough foreign workers to help with the harvest."
To ease the pressure on household budgets … large retail stores and major online malls are giving out coupons with 20 percent discounts.
The government is also expanding supplies of 16 popular staples in a bid to stabilize the market prices.
"In particular, we will double the amount of food supplies on popular staples, such as apples and pears."
The minister says the country will continue to increase supplies of those staples until next Wednesday to keep prices down ahead of Seollal.
Min Suk-hyen, Arirang News.