Processed food prices spike due to heat wave

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Processed food prices spike due to heat wave

Grocery shopping is getting more expensive, as the recent heat wave’s effect on fresh produce has spilled over into processed foods.

According to the Korea Consumer Agency on Monday, pre-prepared soup and sausages were up more than 6 percent. On the contrary, ham prices were down 3 percent and coffee mix fell 2.5 percent.

Among the 30 most popular processed foods, fish cake saw the sharpest increase year-on-year after its price surged 12.4 percent, followed by instant rice at 9.7 percent and sugar at 8.6 percent.

The consumer agency said that prices for soup and sausages were falling before sharply increasing in June.

The agency noted that when compared to a year ago, 20 goods have increased in price.

Frozen dumplings saw the sharpest year-on-year decline at 10.8 percent, followed by instant coffee mix at 1.7 percent and ham, which fell by 1.5 percent.

Thirteen out of the 30 most popular processed foods increased in price in July compared to the previous month, while 15 products dropped in price.

The recent heat wave has been driving up the price of food, including local rice, which has surged by more than 40 percent. The government estimates that this month alone vegetable and fruit prices have gone up by more than 50 percent.

Watermelons are now going for more than 25,000 won a piece because of the heat. Meat prices are also expected to increase. The Agriculture Ministry estimates that between June 2 and Aug. 9, over 5.09 million livestock died from the heat nationwide.

The figure includes 4.71 million chickens, 235,000 ducks and 21,000 pigs.

Even fish are dying due to the rising temperatures. Fish prices are already 30 percent higher than a year ago, and 1.32 million fish have died this year in Korea.

“While there are various factors that contribute to the changing prices of processed goods, one thing that is certain is that with the rising prices of fresh produce, the average households’ dinner shopping expenses will likely increase, especially because these products are purchased the most by consumers,” said a consumer agency official.

The consumer agency study has found that the average cost to buy all 30 popular processed goods at a major discount market amounts to 116,482 won, followed by traditional markets at 118,438 won, supermarkets at 125,385 won and department stores at 133,610 won. While prices for the processed goods at major discount mart and traditional markets fell slightly compared to June, they increased at department stores and supermarkets significantly.

In response to the spike in prices, the government has released a set of measures aimed at curbing the prices of key food ingredients. The Finance Ministry vowed to release 100-200 tons of Napa cabbage everyday.

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