Top retail discounter raises price of chicken, eggs

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Top retail discounter raises price of chicken, eggs

Consumers’ concerns about poultry prices rose again, as some discount chains implemented or released plans to raise the prices of chicken and eggs.

Industry leader E-Mart lifted prices of both products on Thursday.

One kilogram of fresh chicken was 5,980 won ($5.32), a 15.4 percent increase compared to its previous price of 5,180 won.

E-Mart explained that rising producer prices, or the cost of chicken at poultry farms, were the reason for the hike. “Chicken producer prices rose 30 percent year on year, but the retail price at our branches rose merely 3 percent compared to last March,” said a company spokesman. One kilogram of fresh chicken was 5,800 won at E-Mart in late March 2016.

The average producer price of fresh chicken between Monday and Wednesday was 1,978 won per kilo, according to statistics from the state-owned Korea Institute for Animal Products Quality Evaluation. This is 39 percent higher compared to the same period last year.

E-Mart still has the cheapest fresh chicken among the top three discount chains in Korea. Homeplus, which is selling the same product for 6,490 won, and Lotte Mart, for 7,500 won, said they do not have plans to increase.

As for eggs at E-Mart, a tray of 30, sized from 52 grams to 60 grams, started at 6,880 won on Thursday, a 3 percent increase. The company explained that producer prices of eggs also rose due to demand increase from school lunches.

Statistics from the Korea Poultry Association showed that egg prices rose from 159 won on March 10 to 166 won on March 13 when the spring semester began. The price is 42 percent higher than last year’s 117 won.

Lotte Mart also said Thursday it’s looking into raising egg prices, although it has not decided when and how much the hike will be. “The increase rate is likely to be around 3 percent, but the discussion is still ongoing,” said a company spokesman. Lotte Mart’s current price for a tray of 30 eggs is 6,680 won.

Homeplus, which is selling a tray for 7,990 won, said it does not have plans to raise prices for neither eggs nor chicken.

The avian influenza that swept South Jeolla in November pushed up prices of chicken and eggs through early this year.

Moreover, retailers removed chickens imported from Brazil from their shelves Tuesday after the government said importers were selling tainted chicken. The effect on discount chains, however, is limited as Brazilian chicken took up only 1 percent of chicken sold at their stores.


BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]

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