Retail prices of meat and butter in Armenia have risen by more than 20 percent in the last ten days, making these foodstuffs even less affordable for a large part of the country’s population.
Particularly drastic has been a surge in the price of pork. It stood at roughly 2,600 drams ($5.4) in grocery stores and markets in Yerevan on Tuesday, up from 1,600-1,800 drams in August. Beef and lamb prices soared by 20-30 percent to 2,100 and 2,200 drams per kilogram respectively.
Butter, which is mostly imported to Armenia from New Zealand and other countries, was sold for about 4,000 drams per kilo, up from 2,800 drams less than two weeks ago.
Traders in a Yerevan food market, where prices are lower than in supermarkets and smaller stores, said their sales have fallen significantly because of the price hikes.
“We are embarrassed to tell the price to pensioners,” one butter trader told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “Butter is now more expensive than meat,” complained his wife.
Armenia’s state anti-trust regulator, the State Commission for the Protection of Economic Competition (SCPEC), blamed the increased cost of butter on external factors. “Butter prices have risen in virtually all countries of the world,” said Gnel Alaverdian, head of the SCPEC’s analytical department.
“According to the main companies exporting butter from New Zealand, international butter prices rose by over 130 percent between May 2016 and September 2017.” he added. “This is an unprecedented price hike. In the same period, retail prices of butter in our country rose by only 44-50 percent.”
Armenia is far less dependent on imports of meat. The SCPEC could not explain the sharp rise in the prices of this foodstuff, saying that it is not monitoring the domestic meat market.
According to the National Statistical Service (NSS), year-on-year consumer price inflation in the country averaged less than 1 percent in January-August 2017.