Inflation under 1% for the 4th month in a row

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Inflation under 1% for the 4th month in a row

 
Apples sold at a store in Mangwon market in Seoul on Tuesday. Apple prices have risen 45 percent year-on-year. [YONHAP}

Apples sold at a store in Mangwon market in Seoul on Tuesday. Apple prices have risen 45 percent year-on-year. [YONHAP}

 
Inflation came in below 1 percent for the fourth consecutive month, though the price of food rose quickly.
 
According to Statistics Korea on Tuesday, consumer prices in January were up 0.6 percent year-on-year.
 
Inflation has been below 1 percent since October last year.
 
The statistics agency cited petroleum prices, which fell 8.6 percent, as the primary reason for keeping consumer prices from rising. This has also affected utility costs, including electricity and gas, which fell 5 percent year-on-year.
 
The prices of groceries are through the roof, rising 10 percent. This was largely because of Covid-19 forcing people to be confined to their homes and the heavy snow falls last month.  
 
While processed food product prices only rose 1.6 percent, non-processed food prices surged.  
 
Agriculture, fishery and livestock prices were up 10 percent. Agricultural produce prices rose 11.2 percent, livestock product prices were up 11.5 percent and fishery products were up 3.2 percent.  
 
“In the case of agricultural products, the prices of vegetables including Napa cabbage and radish has been stabilizing since a slight increase in September due to the heavy rain [at the time],” said Lee Jung-hyun, head of the statistics agency’s price statistics division. “However, production [of fresh produce] shrunk due to the cold and heavy snows in January, spiking prices.”  
 
Fruit prices surged 20.2 percent. Apple prices jumped 45.5 percent.  
 
The statistics agency’s Lee said livestock prices were driven up by more people eating at home due to the heightened social distancing regulations implemented since November.  
 
Local beef price were up 10 percent, while pork prices rose 18 percent. The price of eggs, which have been in short supply, rose 11.5 percent. It is the biggest jump since March 2020, when prices rose 20.3 percent.  
 
Core inflation, which excludes volatile agricultural products and petroleum, remained unchanged at 0.9 percent.  
 
BY LEE HO-JEONG   [lee.hojeong@joongang.co.kr]
 
 
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