Prices kept rising in July with no slowdown in sight
According to Statistics Korea on Tuesday, rising international crude prices as well as spikes in agriculture and livestock prices boosted July’s figures. The statistics agency and government had earlier projected that consumer prices would ease in the second half of the year.
Agriculture, livestock and fishery prices rose 9.7 percent year-on-year, with egg prices growing 57 percent, the sharpest growth in four years.
The last time egg prices grew at such a rate was in July 2017, when they rose 64.8 percent.
July was also the second consecutive month in which egg prices rose more than 50 percent.
During an economic ministers meeting last week, President Moon Jae-in emphasized the need to bring down egg prices.
Other foods that saw prices rise were garlic, which rose 45.9 percent, and red chili powder, 34.4 percent.
Fruit prices were up, including apples (60.7 percent), pears (52.9 percent) and grapes (14.1 percent).
Pork prices were up 9.9 percent, Korean beef prices 7.7 percent and chicken 7.5 percent.
On Monday, Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said the government will put all its efforts into lowering consumer price, particularly eggs, as one of Korea’s biggest holidays, Chuseok, will be celebrated next month.
The government plans to import 100 million eggs in August and again in September.
Higher food prices have directly affected prices at restaurants, which rose 2.5 percent in July.
Other prices that affected overall consumer prices were gasoline, which rose 19.3 percent last month compared to the same period a year earlier. Diesel prices rose 21 percent.
The statistics agency said it hasn’t changed its view that consumer prices in the second half of the year will ease.
“It’s too early to say whether our projections were right or wrong as we haven’t gone through the entire second half,” said Eo Woon-sun, a statistics agency official. “Last month we projected that [consumer price growth] in the second half will show more stability when compared to the second quarter.”
Eo said agriculture and livestock prices rose more than expected.
He also noted that utility bills were higher than last year.
The Finance Ministry said while there are several risks factors for greater inflations, including summer heat wave, typhoons and international crude prices, consumer price growth will likely slow.
BY LEE HO-JEONG [firstname.lastname@example.org]