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Dried seaweed prices skyrocket to highest-ever level

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : May 7, 2024 - 14:04

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This photo taken Tuesday shows packages of gim, or dried seaweed, on display at a traditional market in Seoul. (Yonhap) This photo taken Tuesday shows packages of gim, or dried seaweed, on display at a traditional market in Seoul. (Yonhap)

The wholesale price of gim, or dried seaweed, in South Korea in April nearly doubled from last year, rising to its highest-ever level.

A 100-sheet package of gim was traded at an average of 10,089 won ($7.4) in April, soaring by 80.1 percent compared to the same month in 2023, according to the state-run Korea Maritime Institute.

It was the first time that the wholesale price of gim surpassed the 10,000-won mark, and the institute projects that the price will keep climbing to 10,875 won by October.

The price of dried seaweed, which increased past 5,000 won for the first time in February last year, gradually increased to 7,291 won in February this year. The price then jumped by 35.7 percent in March to 9,893 won and is continuing to rise.

The sudden jump in price is directly attributed to a decrease in gim stocks. The unit for gim is "sok," which refers to 100 sheets of gim. The total gim stock in April was 49 million sok -- 25 percent less than a year ago.

Despite the drop in stock, the country is actually producing more gim than before, with 149.4 million sok being produced to mark a 6.3 percent increase from the year before.

However, it appears that the rise in production is not enough to keep up with the rise in consumption, both inside and outside of South Korea, as the country has been exporting increasing amounts of gim.

In April, South Korea exported 10 million sok of gim, marking a 3.1 percent increase from the previous month and a 2.5 percent on-year increase.

According to the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, the country exported $791 million worth of gim, which was the highest figure of all time, marking a sevenfold increase from $110 million in 2010.

Gim and related Korean dishes such as gimbap have been growing in popularity abroad, and last year, Trader Joe's, a major US-based grocery chain, launched gimbap products, which were so popular that there was even a nationwide shortage, according to local reports.