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South Korea's Per Capital Rice Consumption Will Be Lowest In 2017

By February 27, 2017 at 12:23 am
South Korea's per capita rice consumption in 2017 will be equivalent to 40 percent of the all-time high level in 1970. (Photo : Getty Images)

South Koreans' changing eating habits will likely lead to the country's lowest ever per capita rice consumption this year, according to a report released Monday.

In a report by the Korea Rural Economic Institute, the average annual consumption of rice per individual in South Korea is forecast to be at 59.6 kilograms in 2017, down from 61.9 kg last year.

The forecast for this year also marks the first time that South Korea's per capita rice consumption will drop below the 60-kg mark. It will also be equivalent to 40 percent of the all-time high level of 136.4 kg in 1970.

Last year, South Koreans' daily rice consumption was 172.4 g, down 3.3 percent from 2015, a sign that they eat less than two bowls of rice each day. The average weight of one rice bowl is 100 g.

The annual rice consumption of South Koreans has halved over the past 30 years due primarily to changes in eating habits and diet, according to data compiled by Statistics Korea released last June.

Meanwhile, consumption of non-rice grains, which includes wheat and barley, climbed to 8.8 kg or an increase of 1.1 percent from 2015, the statistical agency said.

The significant decline in consumption of rice and a bumper harvest in 2016 resulted in an increase of total stock. As of end-2016, the rice stockpiles of the government's reached 2 million tons.

With chronic rice oversupply, prices of the staple grain have been on the decline. The price of an 80-kg sack fell below 130,000 won in 2016, reaching its lowest level in 21 years.

Earlier this month, the South Korean government announced measures that aim to strike a balance between rice supply and demand by 2019 such as increasing consumption and reducing rice cultivation.

The government will reduce the country's rice paddies from 779,000 hectares in 2016 to 711,000 hectares in 2019. To meet increasing demand for ready-to-eat dishes, the government will back food businesses to make rice-based light meals and desserts.  

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