A monthly report released by the Armenian government’s Statistical Committee shows that the prices of food products and nonalcoholic beverages in the country were up by an average of 7.8 percent from February 2020. The year-on-year rise in their average cost stood at 6.4 percent in January 2021.
The Statistical Committee again recorded particularly drastic increases in the prices of imported key foodstuffs such as cooking oil and sugar. They were up by more than 40 percent from January 2020.
The prices of bread and dairy products rose by more than 9 percent, said the government agency. It also reported a roughly 10 percent surge in the cost of fruits and vegetables mostly grown in Armenia.
Consequently, consumer price inflation in the country reached 5.3 percent in February, according to the committee report, further surpassing a full-year target of 4 percent set by the Armenian authorities for 2021.
In a bid to curb the higher-than-projected inflation, the Central Bank of Armenia has twice raised its key interest rate since December 15. The bank’s governor, Martin Galstian, expressed confidence last month that the authorities will eventually meet their inflation target.
The rising cost of living is increasingly felt by ordinary Armenians who have already been hit hard by severe socioeconomic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.
“If there is inflation and no economic growth in the country that’s not normal,” one woman in Yerevan told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service on Monday.
“I’m saddened and hoping for a miracle that will put an end to this,” said another citizen.
The surge in food prices was caused in part by a major depreciation of the Armenian dram. The national currency has lost more than 7 percent of its nominal value against the U.S. dollar in the past year.
The surge also reflects a global trend. In a recent report, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said that world food prices rose in November to the highest level in six years. It described the coronavirus pandemic as “an important driver of the levels of global food insecurity.”