Potato prices continue to rise. At the Garak Market in Seoul on the 4th, a box of 20 kg of potatoes was sold at KRW 75,367 (about USD 58.48). Compared to the average value (48,105 won) from 2019 to 2021, it rose by 57%. As of the 4th, the average price for a box of 20 kg of potatoes per week was KRW 71,747 (about USD 55.67).
The price increase of 'Sumi' potato, a popular variety, was more pronounced. On the 4th, 'Sumi' sold a box of 20 kg product at KRW 75,820 (about USD 58.83), nearly double that of a year ago (KRW 38,330 (about USD 29.74)).
Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which has been going on for more than two months, is blamed for the surge in potato prices. In general, in late April to early May, when the shipment of stored potatoes is completed, imports increase and the domestic shortage is filled and prices are formed, but this year, imports are not easy. Import prices also soared.
According to Dongwha Office, the average price of 1 kg of imported potatoes in March this year was USD 1.22, up 20% from a year ago (USD 1.02). This is because the crops in North America, Korea's main importer of potatoes, are not good, and other importers are also restricting food exports in preparation for a 'food crisis' from Ukraine.
Import prices also soared.
This upward trend in potato prices is expected to continue for the time being. Shipments are expected to be lower than last year. According to the May potato observations recently released by the Korea Rural Economic Research Institute, shipments fell by 3.5% compared to last year.
Expensive freight rates are also a factor that raises the price of imported potatoes.
The Shanghai Container Freight Index (SCFI), which is the standard for global freight rates, stood at 4177.3 as of April 29, and has not fallen below 4100 since July last year.
This is because the stock of stored highland potatoes is 19.4% lower than last year, so it is difficult to keep up with the quantity even if spring potatoes are shipped from facilities or outdoors.
In addition, the fact that the shipment of spring potatoes has been delayed due to bad weather supports the observation that the price will continue to rise for the time being. The Agricultural Association predicted that "the price will be somewhat stable from the end of May, when the wild spring potatoes are shipped in earnest."