Favorite dishes will cost you more this holiday

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Favorite dishes will cost you more this holiday

With the Chuseok holiday only a month away, prices of premium hanwoo beef and yellow croaker fish - Korean’s favorite dishes for the holiday - are soaring.

Affected by short supply and growing demand, the first-class Korean beef sold for an average 21,246 won ($17.85) per 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) between Aug. 1 and Aug. 22, setting a five year high, the Korea Rural Economic Institute said.

The price is up 20.4 percent, from 17,651 won during the same period last year, for the holiday which is Korea’s equivalent of Thanksgiving in North America.

The wholesale price of second-class beef rose by 29.7 percent to 16,567 won while third class sold for 14,569 won, up 33.5 percent compared to the same period over a year ago.

The livestock industry says the number of households raising the native cattle has been on the decline since 2012 as free trade pacts with different countries have brought in imported beef in bulk.

“The number of the indigenous cattle will keep on sliding,” said a source in the industry. “The trend of a higher price will go on until 2017.”

Although the supply of hanwoo has decreased, consumers prefer the premium beef over cheap imported beef, especially at holiday time, both as a dish and gift.

Hanwoo is regarded as fresher and of better quality, delivering rich chewiness. But if the price keeps on increasing as it is now, consumers will likely be forced to look for cheaper alternatives.

The premium beef is a popular gift that people exchange during both the Chuseok and the Lunar New Year

While the price of the Korean beef gradually increased entering this year, demand for imported beef also went up.

A total of 170,000 tons of beef were shipped to Korea between January and July, a 3.1 percent increase during the same period last year. July, in particular, saw a drastic increase of 24 percent at 31,000 tons.

Of the imported beef, 54 percent came from Australia, while 37 percent originated from the United States, followed by New Zealand and Canada.

Along with native beef, yellow croakers have also become scarcer as Chinese fishermen have poached fish breeding grounds.

Retailers said the price of yellow croakers has increased by around 15 percent compared to a year ago.

Meanwhile, fruit growers have had a good crop this year, so apples and pears should be available at lower prices.

The prices of seaweed and anchovy remained almost flat compared to last year.

BY PARK EUN-JEE, LEE SO-AH [park.eunjee@joongang.co.kr]
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