Cost of Russian staples such as sugar climb higher

Russian prices for staple goods such as sugar and sunflower oil that have bounded higher during the coronavirus pandemic continue to climb, the Rosstat statistics agency said Tuesday.

Consumer prices began to rise in March 2020, driven by a slump in crude oil prices and a drop in the value of the Russian ruble after a stretch of historically low inflation.

Among the most affected food prices were those for sugar, which gained 64 percent in February from the same month a year earlier, and sunflower oil, which rose by 26 percent.

Figures published by Rosstat Tuesday showed that in March, the price of sugar was 48 percent higher on a 12-month basis while sunflower oil cost 27 percent more.

Higher food prices are a particularly sensitive topic ahead of parliamentary polls in autumn.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, global food prices rose in February for the ninth consecutive month to reach their highest level in nearly seven years.

The rises reflect higher commodity prices in general that are being driven by anticipation of an economic recovery after the pandemic, unfavourable weather conditions and supply chain disruptions owing to the coronavirus crisis.

In Russia, food prices have defied government attempts to address the issue since late last year.

In December, President Vladimir Putin expressed concern over the situation and directed his government to prepare measures before the New Year's holidays.

The government announced price caps for sugar and sunflower oil, which in theory run until June 1 and October 1 respectively.

Rosstat also said Tuesday that 12-month Russian inflation stood at 5.8 percent last month, up from 5.7 percent in February.

In 2020, Russia recorded an annual rate of 3.4 percent but in November, the ruble plunged to its lowest level since December 2014, which pushed up the cost of imported goods.

The Russian central bank has set a medium-term inflation target of 4.0 percent, and to that end recently raised its main interest rate for the first time since late 2018.

Topics: UN Food and Agriculture Organization , Russia , Economy , Inflation , Vladimir Putin
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