Steep rise in retail prices in Korea as air freight costs are tripled

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The ban from flying over Russian airspace is forcing European farmed salmon to take a major detour to reach Asia, driving up freight costs, and ultimately retail prices.

In one supermarket, 100-gram salmon filet prices increased by 15.5 percent, from 3,880 won to 4,480 won (EUR 3.31). The same day another supermarket lifted prices of its Norway-farmed fresh salmon by 26.4 percent. A 100-gram unit formerly priced at 3,780 won now costs 4,780 won (EUR 3,53), The Korea Herald reported.

“We have seen salmon prices soaring from some $12 to $13 to a whopping $19 to $20 a kilogram in the fallout from the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Airfreight rates have risen at least threefold since the outbreak of the war,” said an fish importer.

While supermarkets are reassuring consumers that they have enough stock for immediate supplies, uncertainty surrounding the war is prompting retailers to explore alternatives.

E-mart is looking to import Chilean frozen salmon in case of a prolonged war. Homeplus has turned to Tasmanian salmon from Australia, while Lotte Mart will start selling Tasmanian salmon along with Scottish salmon from April.

Restaurants that offer up salmon dishes are also in distress. Some owners are being forced to make difficult decisions, including lifting prices and eliminating menu items.

Korean Air Cargo. Photo: John Murphy