In Seoul, a solo office worker known as Mr. A was taken aback by the price of his lunch when he and his colleagues visited a popular burger franchise. With burgers typically being a budget-friendly meal, Mr. A was surprised to discover that the price of a burger set, which included a burger, fries, and a drink, came out to almost $7.69. “While it’s natural that dining out prices are increasing due to various factors, even value meals like burgers are becoming more expensive, making eating out more difficult,” he complained.
Over the past month, six of the most well-known burger chains in Korea – Mom’s Touch, McDonald’s, Lotteria, Burger King, KFC, and No Brand Burger – have all raised their prices, exacerbating the financial strain on consumers. This phenomenon, dubbed “burgerflation” – a portmanteau of “burger” and “inflation” – is becoming a cause for concern.
According to industry insiders on the 10th, Burger King has raised the prices of its 47 menu items, which includes 32 burger items and 15 side dishes and drinks, by an average of 2.0%. Its flagship menu item, the Whopper, has increased from $5.30 to $5.46, a 2.9% increase, while the Whopper Junior now costs $3.61, up 2.2% from $3.54. Similarly, Mom’s Touch raised the prices of its 43 menu items by an average of 5.7% from the 7th, while Lotteria, McDonald’s, and No Brand Burger all raised their main menu item prices by an average of 4.8% to 5.4%. KFC has increased some of its burger and chicken menu prices by $0.08 to $0.15.
The burger chains assert that they have no choice but to increase their prices due to the high cost of raw materials, labor, and utility bills for running the stores. As of the 8th, according to the Seoul Agro-Fisheries & Food Corporation, 10kg of top-quality tomatoes were being traded at an average price of $30.22, a 9.67% increase from last year’s price of $27.53 on March 8th. Meanwhile, the global logistics crisis has caused potato prices to rise even more sharply, with 20kg of top-grade potatoes being traded at $58.04 on the 8th, up 68.71% from the same day last year when they were $34.40.
This year, the consumer price index for energy increased by 29%, and 33% for electricity and gas, respectively, compared to the previous month in January.
Typically, fast food burger chains increase their prices once a year, but lately, their price increase cycle has become faster, occurring every 6 to 8 months. This is attributed to factors such as COVID-19, Russia’s import ban on agricultural products, and the supply shortage of food ingredients.