News & Events

Rice Consumption Drops 4.4%

By Bae Keun-min
The Korea Times, January 14, 2004

The consumption of rice, the staple food of the Korean diet, has continually decreased over the past few decades as the national diet has become more westernized.

The National Statistical Office (NSO) reported on Wednesday that per capita annual rice consumption fell 4.4 percent, or 3.8 kilograms, to 83.2 kg during the period of Nov. 1, 2002 - Oct. 31, 2003.

In a survey of 640 farming households and 999 non-farming households, the NSO said the average Korean ate 227.9 grams of rice a day in the cited-period.

The per capita annual consumption fell from 128.1kg in 1985 to 119.6 kg in 1990, 106.5 kg in 1995 and 93.6 kg in 2000.

The NSO attributed the decrease to rising consumption of instant food, processed meals and rice substitutes, including bread and noodles.

By type of household, a member of an average farm household consumed 135.4kg in the one-year period, 1.7 times more than the amount of rice consumption for a person living in a non-farming household.

The most rice was consumed in January, the month of the 2003 Lunar New Year, as the nation enjoyed traditional dishes such as ``tok,¡¯¡¯ a Korean cake made of rice. Per capita daily rice consumption stood at 238.1 grams for last January.

Last July, when many of people went away for summer vacation, was the lowest month of rice consumption with per a capita daily rice consumption of 219.9 g.

The average person skipped 20.8 meals in the cited one-year period, down 2.5 meals, or 10.7 percent from a year ago, as public concern on health rose, the NSO said. South Koreans passed over some two meals a month.

The NSO said the nation¡¯s rice consumption was higher than those of Japan and Taiwan, whose per capita annual rice consumption levels were 63.6 kg in 2001 and 50 kg in 2002. But the speed of the fall in rice consumption led to a forecast that the consumption level of the nation will come close to those Asian nations in the near future.

Per capita annual grain consumption registered 91.7kg in the cited period, down 7.4 percent or 7.3 kg from a year ago.

An average person consumed 1kg of barely and 0.6kg of multi grains, down 33.3 percent for each. Wheat consumption decreased 29.6 percent to 1.9kg.

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