Korean consumer prices rise 3.1% in March

2024.04.02 13:01:01 | 2024.04.02 13:02:26

[Photo by Yonhap]이미지 확대

[Photo by Yonhap]



South Korean consumer prices remained above 3 percent for a second consecutive month in March 2024 as fruit and oil prices remained volatile, official data showed on Tuesday.

The country‘s consumer price index stood at 113.94 in March 2024, up 3.1 percent from a year earlier, according to data from Statistics Korea.

The index remained in the 3 percent range for the second month in a row after falling to 2.8 percent in January 2024 and rising to 3.1 percent a month later.

Prices of agricultural, livestock, and fisheries products rose 11.7 percent in March from a year earlier, the highest increase in two years and 11 months since a 13.2 percent increase in April 2021. Agricultural products gained 20.5 percent for a second consecutive month in the 20 percent range following the previous month’s increase of 20.9 percent.

In particular, the price of apples increased by 88.2 percent, surpassing the previous month’s increase of 71 percent and the largest increase since relevant data began being compiled in January 1980. The prices of pears also rose by 87.8 percent, the highest increase rate since data compilation in January 1975.

Prices of tangerines (68.4 percent) and other fruits also surged, leading to a 40.3 percent increase in fruit prices. This is the second consecutive month of an increase above 40 percent following a 40.6 percent increase in February 2024.

The upward trend in fruit prices continued due to poor harvests and the base effect from 2023, and the effects of government policies such as support for delivery costs were also reflected in the prices according to Statistics Korea.

Prices of vegetables also rose by 10.9 percent, led by a 36.1 percent increase in tomatoes and a 23.4 percent increase in green onions.

[Graphics by Song Ji-yoon]이미지 확대

[Graphics by Song Ji-yoon]



Prices of livestock products, including imported beef (8.9 percent), also gained 2.1 percent, while prices of petroleum products went up 1.2 percent in March 2024 from a year ago as international oil prices remain unstable. The increase is the first in 14 months since a 4.1 percent increase in January 2023.

The prices of industrial goods gained 2.2 percent on year, mainly due to price hikes for new products including dresses (14 percent) and T-shirts (10.4 percent).

The fresh food index, which consists of items with large price fluctuations due to weather conditions, increased by 19.5 percent for a sixth consecutive month of double-digit growth. This between February 2010 to March 2011 that the fresh food index grew by more than 10 percent in more than six months.

Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy factors, rose by 2.4 percent, while prices of personal services increased by 3.1 percent, showing a slower increase than the previous month‘s 3.4 percent. Dining out rose by 3.4 percent, and services other than dining out rose 2.9 percent.

Insurance service fees (17.9 percent), workplace cafeteria meal costs (5.1 percent), and apartment management fees (4.8 percent) also saw significant increases.

Prices of public services went up 2 percent, led by increases in taxi fares (13 percent) and city bus fares (11.7 percent). Prices of daily necessities, comprising items closely related to people’s everyday lives, climbed 3.8 percent on-year in March.

“The increase in petroleum products seems to have pushed up overall prices,” according to Kong Mi-sook, a senior official at Statistics Korea. “Geopolitical factors related to petroleum and weather will likely continue to affect prices moving forward.”

By Pulse

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