Kimchi, the renowned national dish of South Korea, is made from fermented cabbage or other vegetables, and factory workers there toil diligently along a production line to make it.
Despite the hoopla, climate change-related cabbage shortages are making it difficult for South Korean kimchi producers this year, driving up prices. The less expensive goods provided by Chinese rivals who don’t experience a cabbage shortage also damaged business.
One such company, run by Ahn Ik-jin of kimchi producer Cheongone Organic, struggles to obtain enough cabbages due to the high price. The storage rooms of his factory are almost all empty.
Ahn has purchased some mediocre cabbages to keep up production. Still, he was forced to increase the price of the kimchi sold to other businesses by two-thirds, to 5,000 won ($3.50) per kilogramme.
South Korea’s domestic kimchi output has been dropping for some time. Chinese imports, which are usually priced at about a third of kimchi made locally, have soared to take over 40% of the local market for commercially manufactured kimchi during the previous 20 years.
The recent bad cabbage crops have mainly caused the sector to fail. Nearly half of South Korea’s 1,000 or so kimchi makers, according to a study by Korea Rating & Data, either shut down permanently or temporarily last year or recorded no sales.