The Korea Herald


Dried seaweed prices rise sharply in May

By Hwang Joo-young

Published : June 6, 2024 - 14:44

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Customers shop for seasoned dried seaweed products at a supermarket in Seoul. (Newsis) Customers shop for seasoned dried seaweed products at a supermarket in Seoul. (Newsis)

The price of dried seaweed in South Korea increased by 17.8 percent in May compared to the same period last year amid surging demand from overseas markets, according to Korea Statistics on Thursday.

This rise surpasses both the average increase in seafood prices, which was 0.1 percent, and the overall consumer price increase of 2.7 percent during the same period.

The rate of increase in seaweed prices has been steadily rising, from 1.2 percent in January to 3.1 percent in February, 6.6 percent in March and 10 percent in April. The retail price for a 100-sheet package of dried seaweed is now 10,700 won ($7.79), as reported Thursday by the Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corp.

This is the largest increase since January 2018, when reduced rainfall the year prior led to malnutrition in the seawater used by the nation’s seaweed farms. This time, the price surge of seaweed aligns with an increasing overseas demand for dried seaweed dishes such as gimbap and gim-snacks.

In 2023, South Korea exported 18,599 tons of dried seaweed, a 12.4 percent increase from the previous year. The total value of seaweed exports also rose to 1.86 trillion won, surpassing the one trillion won mark for the first time. In the first four months of this year, seaweed exports reached 6,443 tons, a 9.4 percent increase compared to the same period last year.

This rise in seaweed prices has also led to price increases for related products. The price of seasoned dried seaweed products increased by 8.1 percent in May, while the price of gimbap rose by 5.2 percent, exceeding the 2.8 percent increase in dining-out prices, during the same period.

"The price of raw seaweed has risen so much compared to last year that we had no choice but to increase the price of seasoned seaweed," an industry official said.

In response to rising prices, the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries announced plans to expand seaweed farming areas by approximately 2,700 hectares starting in July, with production set to begin in October.