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India's wheat export ban feared to raise prices of bread, instant noodles

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A customer picks up a pack of Nongshim's instant noodles at a grocery store in Seoul on July 29, 2021. Newsis
A customer picks up a pack of Nongshim's instant noodles at a grocery store in Seoul on July 29, 2021. Newsis

By Kim Jae-heun

India's wheat export ban has been causing concerns over possible hikes in the prices of instant noodles, bread and other processed products made from the grain in Korea in the coming months, according to industry officials, Monday.

India is the world's second-largest wheat exporter after China. Korea imports 51 percent of its milled wheat from the United States and the rest from Canada and Australia. The portion of wheat imported from India is insignificant, thus India's export ban on wheat will not directly affect Korea. However, it is inevitable for the raw material's global price to rise as India is currently suffering from low production of wheat due to the climate crisis.

"India is the third-largest producer of wheat in the world, but most of it is consumed locally. It is the eighth-largest exporter of the raw material, so the Indian government's export regulation will have limited effects in the short term. However, if India's export ban continues, it could definitely push the international wheat price up and the Korean government will have to prepare a long-term plan," said an official at the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

Local companies are closely monitoring the situation, as Canada, the United States and France are not harvesting enough wheat either due to warmer weather.

"The international price of wheat last month jumped 40 percent due to the ongoing war in Ukraine. Here, India has decided to ban wheat exports, which could cause the raw material's price to rise even more. Things have become harder for local firms now," said an official at a local food company, who declined to be named.

Nongshim, the country's largest instant noodle maker, said it already increased the prices for its products last August so there won't be additional price hikes in anytime soon.

"We use wheat imported from the United States and Australia and we have enough stock for a while. However, we will have to prepare if the short supply of wheat continues around the world," a Nongshim official said.

Kim Jae-heun

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