September 29, 2023
SEOUL – Amid rising inflation, an increasing number of Koreans are opting for more affordable ready-to-eat meals, or meal kit, products over traditional dishes to prepare a table for the Korean Thanksgiving holiday of Chuseok that runs from Sept. 28 through Sept. 30 this year.
During Chuseok, setting up a “charye” — a table full of food offerings including fruits, rice, fish and meat — is prepared to honor one’s ancestors.
However, the cost of preparing a four-person charye is expected to hit an all-time high ahead of Chuseok, according to the latest data released by Korea Price Information Corp.
When preparing a table with ingredients from the traditional market, the price was estimated at some 309,000 won ($231), up by 9,000 won from last year, marking a three percent on-year growth.
Meanwhile, if one is preparing a charye with ingredients from a large supermarket chain, the price comes to some 403,280 won, a rise of 7,990 won that equates to a 2 percent growth on-year.
A poor harvest, caused by the heat wave and Typhoon Khanun this summer, is believed to be largely responsible for a surge in the cost of setting up a charye table, as the prices of individual staples have soared significantly.
For example, the price of three apples rose by over 30 percent, jumping from 15,000 won to 20,000 won at the traditional market, and from 14,900 won to 19,600 won at a large supermarket chain, compared to last year.
Meanwhile, the price of 2 kilograms of rice rose from 5,000 won to 6,000 won at the traditional market, and from 8,450 won to 9,990 won at large supermarkets on-year.
In light of rising food prices, more people have turned to cheaper and more convenient ready-to-eat meals or meal kit products to simplify this year’s charye.
According to the latest analysis of sales trends from Sept. 4-13 by e-commerce platform Gmarket, sales of processed livestock products rose by 30 percent, and instant rice and cup rice products by a staggering 46 percent compared to the Chuseok promotion period from Aug. 15- 24 last year.