Tags: Russia | inflation | economy | food

Russian Supermarkets Freeze Prices for Inflation-weary Shoppers

Saturday, 28 February 2015 10:53 PM

Lots of things freeze in Russia's bitterly cold winters, but not usually food prices, yet that is exactly what top supermarket chains are doing to protect the poor from galloping inflation.

The plunging ruble and a Russian embargo on European Union and U.S. food products in retribution over Ukraine sanctions has resulted in prices for many goods skyrocketing.

The ACORT trade association, which includes major supermarket chains such as Magnit, X5, Auchan, Lenta and Metro, announced last week that it was freezing prices "on more than 20 socially important items of basic necessity for two months."

The supermarkets said they hope to "contribute to a stabilization of the situation on the food markets in the interest of consumers" and called on suppliers to help in the effort.

Freezing prices may also be in the interests of the supermarkets although it will eat into their profits, analysts say, as it may help them escape worse measures from the government.

The list of products covered has not been announced, but the newspaper Vedomosti reported that it will include meat, fish, milk, sugar, salt, potatoes, cabbage and apples.

 

 

According to official statistics, food prices rose by 15 percent in 2014 and increases have accelerated since the start of the year.

With it taking nearly twice as many rubles to buy a dollar, prices for imported goods have soared.

"I see how much prices are rising every day and sometimes it makes my hair stand on end," said Maria Bunina, a 62-year-old Moscow pensioner.

"I usually fill up a trolley," she told AFP. "A year ago that cost 1,200 rubles ($19.50) and today it costs 2,500 rubles."

The same goes for medicines, most of which are imported. Prices have jumped by as much as one third.

A group that unites more than 730 pharmacies has said they will join the initiative by freezing prices on vital medicines for chronic illnesses that are common among lower income groups.

Food and medicine prices are a sensitive issue for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who returned to the Kremlin in 2012 on campaign promises of improving social welfare.

With the ruble having lost nearly half of its value against the dollar, in large part due to the collapse of the global price of Russia's key export earner oil, the government is strapped for cash to fund welfare programs.

Instead, the authorities have turned to a series of highly-publicized inspections to ensure shops and market traders are not price-gouging.

Spectacular cases of a 163 percent jump in cabbage prices, the cost of cucumbers rocketing 478 percent and tomatoes 338 percent were uncovered.

© AFP 2020


   
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Lots of things freeze in Russia's bitterly cold winters, but not usually food prices, yet that is exactly what top supermarket chains are doing to protect the poor from galloping inflation.The plunging ruble and a Russian embargo on European Union and U.S. food products in...
Russia, inflation, economy, food
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2015-53-28
Saturday, 28 February 2015 10:53 PM
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