South Korea's food service industry is forecast to remain in the doldrums due to anemic consumption and other negative factors, a government report showed Friday.
The current business survey index for the food service industry decreased to 65.04 for the fourth quarter of last year from 67.51 three months earlier, according to the report by the farm ministry and the Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corp.
The index measures how the industry fared for the past three months, compared with the previous three months. A reading below 100 means a contraction in the business.
All types of businesses in the industry, including Korean and Japanese restaurants, suffered setbacks in sales during the three-month period.
The report also predicted the slump in the food service industry to deepen in the current quarter amid a lack of positive leads that could turn around the sector.
The industry's slump was attributed to a combination of decreased consumption sparked by a massive political scandal, the implementation of a tough anti-graft law and a jump in egg prices due to the worst outbreak of avian influenza in the country.
South Korea remains gripped by the corruption scandal revolving around President Park Geun-hye and her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil. The National Assembly impeached Park over the scandal on Dec. 9, while the Constitutional Court should deliver a verdict on the decision within 180 days of the impeachment.
The draconian anti-graft law, which took effect on Sept. 28, bans public servants, educators and journalists from receiving free meals valued over 30,000 won (US$26.2), gifts worth more than 50,000 won or congratulatory or condolence money of more than 100,000 won.
The bird flu outbreak, which was first reported in mid-November, has prompted South Korea to cull more than 30 million chickens, sending egg prices soaring. Egg prices began to steady in early January as the government imported some 400 tons of eggs from the United States.
Meanwhile, the anti-graft law made a big dent in the sales of the food service industry. The sector's sales index stood at an average 74.27 for the October-December period, compared with 100 before the law went into effect, according to the report. (Yonhap)