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Fears over milk price hike as inflation pressure mounts

Bottles of fresh milk are displayed for sale at a discount store in Seoul on Thursday. (Yonhap)
Bottles of fresh milk are displayed for sale at a discount store in Seoul on Thursday. (Yonhap)
Upward pressure is growing on retail milk prices, following an increase in the price of raw milk this month, but the government seeks to delay the price hike until the end of this year amid rising inflation.

In July last year, the Korea Dairy Committee decided to raise the price of raw milk by 21 won to 947 won per liter starting this month, according to industry sources.

The retail price of milk has yet to increase, but consumers will not learn until later this month, which is when major dairy companies in the country such as Seoul Milk and Maeil Dairies pay for their milk for first fifteen days of the following month.

The government is making a last-ditch effort to buy time as consumer prices for popular groceries such as instant noodles and sauces have been steadily rising.

“We discussed delaying (the price hike) until the end of this year,” one official at the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs told The Korea Herald.

The proposal has not been accepted by the dairy production industry, the official said, though efforts to persuade continue.

A milk price hike is feared to trigger a domino effect on other dairy products as well as coffee and baked goods, which will further drive up the cost of grocery shopping, dealing a further blow to the government seeking to keep food prices down.

South Korea’s food price inflation in the second quarter ranked the third highest among members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, according to data compiled by the OECD and Statistics Korea.

The prices for groceries and nonalcoholic beverages surged by 7.3 percent on-year in the April-June quarter, far surpassing the OECD average of 1.6 percent.

The KDC has yet to inform dairy companies of the recent raw milk price hike, Yonhap reported on Thursday.

By Yim Hyun-su (hyunsu@heraldcorp.com)
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