“Lunch Flation” bites a Korean office worker

Park Mi-won, a salaryman, said that the inflation rate in South Korea reached a high for the first time in 14 years, so the price of his favorite lunch buffet rose by more than 10% to 9,000 won (US $ 6.93). I never bought lunch at the store.

“After raising the price, I went to a convenience store instead, but the price was reasonable and the food was delicious,” said 62 years old. “So now I go there a couple of times a week.”

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, global food prices surged 23% year-on-year last month.

Photo: Reuters

Moscow’s war with Ukraine affected the supply of grain there and from Russia, raising energy and fertilizer prices.

Convenience stores offering cheap instant noodles, sandwiches and gimbap (rice rolls) for less than $ 5 are becoming more popular as salaried workers such as parks are looking for ways to reduce costs.

In the first five months of this year, sales of instant meals at the Korean convenience store chain GS25 increased by more than 30% year-on-year.

In response to rising demand, GS25 has also launched a new meal subscription service for office workers. This includes price discounts and direct delivery to the office.

While peers, including CU and Seven-Eleven, have seen similar surges in demand, Emart24 has seen a 50% surge in bento sales in areas with a large number of office buildings.

Last month, Korean restaurant food prices rose 7.4% year-on-year. This is the fastest pace in 24 years.

According to government statistics, prices for popular dishes such as galbitan (beef stew and rice) called “lunch froth” rose 12.2%, and cold noodles (cold noodles) rose 8.1%.

Convenience store lunches are not affected by rising costs, but they are becoming more popular due to their much lower overall prices.

In the capital city of Seoul, the average price of Nemmyung is over 10,000 won, but according to data from the Korean Consumer Affairs Agency, instant noodles are still sold at convenience stores for just over 1,000 won.

The Bank of Korea estimates that for every 1% increase in the price of imported agricultural products, the price of processed foods will increase by 0.36% next year and the price of restaurants will increase by 0.14% over the next three years.

Some operators say diners should expect bigger price increases.

Lee Sang-jae, who runs a Garbitan restaurant in central Seoul and raised the price from 10,000 won to 120,000 won twice this year, said, “In fact, we need to raise the price even more.”

“Instead, we have to consider the light wallet of office workers these days, so we are giving up part of the rate of return,” Lee said.

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