Dire crop yield set to send rice prices higher

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Dire crop yield set to send rice prices higher

Rice prices have jumped over 30 percent in two years and are expected to climb even higher this year due to the impact of a series of summer typhoons.

According to the Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation (aT) yesterday, the wholesale price of 20 kilograms (44 pounds) of rice was 42,250 won ($38.22) as of Tuesday, up 4.3 percent from the 40,420 won last year, when rice crops hit a record low. The price was up 31.2 percent from 2010.

At Garak Market, a large wholesale food market in Songpa District, southern Seoul, 20 kilograms of Gyeonggi Rice rose 8.3 percent last month to 52,000 won on-year.

Rice prices are expected to rise again at the end of this month when the crop for this year will be shipped to the market in earnest, especially due to an insufficient stockpile hanging over from last year.

Rice yields stood at 4.22 million tons last year, the lowest figure on record. Local retailers say further price hikes may lay in store later this year due to the growing demand for newly harvested rice.

“The rice yield for this year will very likely set a new record low, and one significantly below what we saw last year,” said Lee Hyun-jin, manager of the grain department at discount store E-Mart.

Lee blamed a recent series of typhoons and run of strong winds, together with a lack of water and sunshine, for producing too many “white heads,” or rice panicles with underdeveloped grain.

By Kim Jung-yoon [kjy@joongang.co.kr]

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