Fruit prices expected to drop 20% for Chuseok

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Fruit prices expected to drop 20% for Chuseok

Retailers predict that the price of fruits will go down for Chuseok, Korea’s traditional harvest festival, as yields are expected to increase by 20 percent in the absence of major typhoons and heavy rains this summer.

Apples that just started turning red were ripening at an apple orchard located on the slope of Jangsu County, South Jeolla, last Wednesday.

“As the daily temperature range is ideal at higher altitudes, apples taste sweeter with high sugar content,” said Baek Doo-in, the owner of the orchard. “This year, we expect to have 20 percent more crop yields as there haven’t been any major typhoons or heavy rains.”

Jangsu County is a major production area for red apples, which are harvested over one month earlier than other types of apples. At this time of year, demand for red apples generally increases to prepare for gift sets for the upcoming Chuseok holiday.

“Not only in Jangsu, but other major apple producing areas such as Mungyeong of North Gyeongsang and Jecheon of North Chungcheong are expecting abundant apple harvests,” said Oh Hyun-joon of E-Mart, one of the nation’s largest discount operators.

Retailers say that fears over Thanksgiving inflation could be relieved, easing consumer’ concerns that rising food prices would jump even more during the holiday season.

This year, Chuseok falls from Sept. 29 to Oct. 1, which will allow fruits enough time to ripen. The relatively mild monsoon season is also benefitting the crop.

Major discount stores such as E-Mart, Homeplus and Lotte Mart are planning for 20 percent more volume of apple gift sets. Retailers are choosing fruits such as apples and pears to include in the major gift sets instead of bundling up processed foods such as canned tuna.

“The price of apples will be 20 percent cheaper and the price of pears will go down by 50 percent,” said Shin Kyung-hwan, a product planner of Lotte Mart.

“We are preparing for 60,000 gift sets made of fruits.”

The price of hanwoo, or Korean beef, has also shown signs of stabilization as the amount of livestock increases. The price of hanwoo gift sets are expected to fall by 20 percent on-year with three million livestock.

“This year, as we have more female cows, prices of second- and third-grade hanwoo will drop by 10 percent,” said Lee Ho-jong of the Homeplus livestock division.

E-Mart has decided to sell a record high of two million sets of second-grade frozen hanwoo ribs at less than 100,000 won ($88).

The price of dried yellow corvine, one of the main Chuseok food products, is also expected to fall by 10 percent compared to last year as there has been a significant increase in the amount of the fish since last Chuseok, according to Lotte Mart.

Retailers are already receiving preorders for the Chuseok gift sets on their online shopping malls.

By Chang Jung-hoon [kjy@joongang.co.kr]

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