According to the Armenian Statistical Committee, they were up by an average of 8.3 percent compared with the same period of 2020. The government agency had recorded year-on-year food price increases of 7.4 percent in March and 7.8 percent in February this year.
The committee’s latest inflation report shows particularly drastic increases in the prices of mostly imported staple foodstuffs such as cooking oil and sugar. They were up by more than 40 percent from April 2020. The prices of bread, vegetables and fruits rose by over 8 percent year on year, according to the report.
The continuing increase in the cost of food products pushed up annual inflation to 6.2 percent in April, well above a 4 percent target set by Armenia’s government and the Central Bank (CBA) for 2021. The CBA governor, Martin Galstian, admitted last week that the authorities will likely fail to meet the inflation target.
Galstian spoke to journalists after the Central Bank raised its main interest rate for the third time in about five months, citing continuing inflationary pressures on the Armenian economy.
The government data shows that the average monthly wage in the country grew by only 2.1 percent in the first quarter of this year.
“This means that real incomes [of the population] are falling,” said Tadevos Avetisian, an economist affiliated with the opposition Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun). “This is a factor of impoverishment.”
Avetisian said the higher-than-projected inflation could also slow Armenia’s recovery from a recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic by suppressing consumer demand.
The higher food prices reflect a global trend. According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, world food prices increased for an 11th consecutive month in April, reaching their highest level since May 2014.