Q & A: Rising grocery prices challenge a South Korean shopper

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Photo by: Gowoon Lee

Hong chooses the fresh chili at Lotte Mart.

Photo by: Gowoon Lee

When Hong goes grocery shopping, she looks at the products carefully.

SEOUL — For South Korean mothers who go grocery shopping every week, the increase in the prices of groceries is having a big influence. They need to reset ‘Things to Buy’ lists and budget for grocery shopping.

In South Korea, the prices of fresh foods have increased over the past two months. Fresh foods include fish, vegetables, and fruits. The percentage of increase in the prices of fresh goods reached 10.5 percent this month.

Photo by: Gowoon Lee

This chart shows that the overall price of fresh goods has increased this month.

Kyesook Hong has been a mother of two children for 22 years. As an expert of effective grocery shopping, Hong introduced the tips on saving money in grocery shopping.

Below are questions asked by the reporter which was answered by Hong.

Grocery Shopping Routine

Q: How often do you go grocery shopping?

A: I usually go grocery shopping every week. However, when there are not many things to buy, I skip the grocery shopping of that week. In that case, I go grocery shopping the following week instead.

Q: Where do you go to do grocery shopping?

A: I normally do my grocery shopping at the Traditional Market, Daon Mart, and Lotte Mart. Every Tuesdays, Traditional Market opens in front of the apartment that I live in. Daon Mart and Lotte Mart are hypermarkets located near my house.

Q: How much do you spend when you go grocery shopping?

A: Every week, I typically spend 100,000 won ($87) for grocery shopping. When I did not go for grocery shopping the previous week, I spend more than that.

Q: What do you buy when you do grocery shopping?

A: I usually buy rice, meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, and dairy products. As my children enjoy eating biscuits, ice cream, beverages, and instant noodles, I buy them too.

Comparison between the groceries prices of past and now

Q: When do you feel the increase in the prices of groceries?

A: I feel the increase in the prices when I buy food materials for side dishes. Our family eats side dishes for every meal. And since there are four members in our family, side dishes are gone pretty quickly. Therefore, I normally buy food materials for side dishes every week. Whenever I go grocery shopping and look at the price tags for the food materials that I want to buy, I am surprised by how much the prices have increased.

Q: Which particular products do you think the prices have increased?

A: I would say eggs, fruits, and milk. Due to the recent outbreak of avian influenza, prices of eggs doubled. Imported fruits and fruits that are not in season are also increased. The prices of dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt have increased too.

Q: How are you coping with the sharp increase in the prices of groceries?

A: Groceries are not the things that we do not need to buy when they become expensive. They are essential goods that we need for living. Therefore, I check sale promotions of the mart that I will go and write ‘Things to Buy’ lists in advance. The ‘Things to Buy’ list prevents any extra spending that might happen during the shopping. I also buy substitute products when the prices of the products that I planned to buy are more expensive than I thought.  For example, when the price of meat is high, I give up on buying it and purchase fish instead. My husband and children like fish too, so it is a good thing.

Photo by: Gowoon Lee

This timeline shows when did Hong go grocery shopping for two weeks.

Photo by: Gowoon Lee

These are the groceries that Hong bought at Daon Mart on July 1.

Photo by: Gowoon Lee

These are the groceries that Hong bought at Traditional Market on July 8.

Photo by: Gowoon Lee

These are the groceries that Hong bought at Lotte Mart on July 8.

 

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