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Potato prices in South Korea increased 122 percent

Staff writer ▼ | May 6, 2015
Potato prices in South Korea more than doubled in April from a year earlier amid the continued popularity of honey-flavored potato chips among local consumers, industry data showed.
Korea potato
Food   The popularity of honey-flavored potato chips
The wholesale price of a 20-kilogram box of white-skinned superior potatoes, a variety that suits chips, came to 49,568 won ($45.85) last month, up 122 percent from 22,295 won a year earlier, according to data compiled by the state-run Korean Rural Economic Institute (KREI).

The April price also marks a 62 percent jump from last year's average price of 34,576 won and a 19 percent jump from the previous month's 41,648 won.

Market watchers attributed the price jump to the honey-flavored chip craze sparked by Honey Butter Chip produced by Haitai Confectionery & Foods Co.

The country's largest foodmaker Nongshim, a latecomer to the honey butter chip phenomenon, purchased 6,000 tons of superior potatoes since late last year in order to increase production of its "Sumi Potato Chip." The amount accounts for a whopping 5.2 percent of South Korea's annual potato production of 115,332 tons.

"We will buy much more potatoes this year from South Korean potato farmers," said an official from Nongshim.

The KREI said potato prices will continue to rise for a while, expecting them to reach up to 45,000 won in May.

Since Haitai introduced Honey Butter Chip in August last year, a number of similar potato chips have been put on the market, taking up market share amid Haitai's lack of production facilities.

Last month, Haitai decided to double its production capacity by next year in order to keep up with soaring demand.

Nongship said last week that it sold a market-leading 13 billion won worth of honey-flavored chips in the first three months of the year, outselling Haitai's original.