As S Korean cabbage price surges, Chinese cabbage sales boom

16:16, October 11, 2010      

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Since the start of October, the price of cabbage, the main ingredient of South Korea's "national dish" kimchi, has surged, spurring a rise in demand for cheaper Chinese cabbage.

In Seoul, the price of a head of cabbage in the supermarket at one point reached 15,000 won, which is about 89 yuan. To stabilize skyrocketing vegetable prices, South Korea has imported a large amount of duty-free cabbage from China.

In the Lotte supermarket in Seoul, reporters learned that because each person was only allowed to buy three cabbages, Chinese cabbages were sold out in about 30 minutes after opening. The supermarket has decided to import an additional 100,000 Chinese cabbages.

Chinese cabbage sells well in South Korean supermarkets

Earlier this month, the South Korean government decided to import cabbage from China to ease the pressure on the domestic market. Lotte was the first large Korean chain supermarket to sell imported Chinese cabbage.

The 30,000 cabbages originally imported from China were sold in 33 Lotte supermarkets within the metropolitan area from Oct. 9 to Oct. 10 at the price of 2,500 won each, which is about 15 yuan. The Lotte supermarket has publicly said that all the imported Chinese cabbage has passed the food inspection and quarantine, and Lotte will also try to shorten the transportation time to ensure the freshness.

The Lotte supermarket chain said it plans to sell the additional Chinese cabbage it has imported around Oct.15. The scope of sales will expand to Lotte's 86 chain supermarkets in South Korea.

"From the two-day sales situation, customers were waiting in line to buy the cabbage outside the entrance of supermarket for one or two hours before start of business," said a vegetable sales director of a Lotte supermarket in Seoul. "Chinese cabbage was approved by the customers and the price is much cheaper than Korean cabbage, so the sales situation is very good, and we will continue to import Chinese cabbage."

Chinese cabbage only one-third price of Korean cabbage

The official said that the sale price of the second round of imported cabbage will remain unchanged and purchases will still be limited to three per person.

Most of the Seoul's citizens who buy the vegetable in this supermarket said that the imported Chinese cabbage has better quality, and the price is only one-third of South Korea's, so they will choose the Chinese cabbage.

An elderly woman in the supermarket told the reporter: "I am running a small restaurant. Kimchi is a daily essential food. In order to reduce production costs, I will buy the cabbage imported from China."

E-MART, another well-known chain supermarket in South Korea, is also importing cabbage from China. They will begin to sell the China cabbage in more than 40 stores starting on Oct. 10 in Seoul and the metropolitan area at a sale price of 2,300 won, which is about 14 yuan.

Most Chinese cabbage that Lotte imported is from China's Shandong Province and Heilongjiang Province and the E-MART's are mainly reported from the Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces.

Source: Beijing Youth Daily, translated by Yan Meng, People's Daily Online


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