increase in bread prices has created a hardship
for financially-vulnerable families.
The price of bread in Armenia has increased sharply
since the beginning of summer, creating hardships
for some whose measure of existence is often equated
with the cost of the daily staple.
Just a couple weeks ago the average cost of a
700 gram loaf was 150 drams (about 25 cents).
Today the price has increased to between 170-200
drams (about 30 cents). But while the price has
increased, the average loaf has decreased in size
to 550 grams. In other words, less bread costs
Those are not good numbers for families like
"Our family needs four to five loaves of
bread every day," says the unemployed mother.
"So it means that if before we paid 600 drams
(about $1.05) for bread every day then now we
have to pay 850 drams (about $1.40). I don't even
talk about the fact together with the increase
of prices for bread the prices for all other foods
have increased as well."
As the price of bread is something of a scale
by which other food goods are priced, its increase
signals a rise in the prices of vegetables, fruits,
Officials blame the increase on the cost of flour
and wheat brought from Russia. (Though it is also
known that Armenia also gets those products from
Greece and Turkey.)
"This increase of prices is not something
new, as every year flour becomes more expensive
during this period of time," says former
Minister of the Agriculture David Zadoyan. "This
year it has happened a little bit sharper because
the crop of the last year is coming to its end
gradually but demand remains the same."
price of wheat and flour has driven up the
cost of bread, a staple of the Armenian diet.
But citizens suspicious of the reasons behind
the increase point to the fact that the amount
of Value Added Tax has not increased on those
goods. If wheat and flour from Russia had increased
in price, then the VAT at the border should have
increased. Documents show, however, that a ton
of those goods purchased last week showed the
same VAT as a ton purchased two months ago.
Armenia's own grain production produces enough
wheat and flour for about 40 percent of its demand.
There are about 1,000 bread bakeries in the republic.
At the end of May, they were paying 7,000 drams
(about $12) per 50-kilogram sack of flour. The
current cost is 12,000 drams (about $20).
Press Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture
Vahan Martirosyan says that the fluctuation of
prices for bread were also noticed before, however,
some period later prices had been stabilized as
these days the market decides scale of prices.
While a slight seasonal increase is routine,
the present increase is the highest since 1995,
when the State relinquished control of price fixing.
Armenians willing to find conspiracy even in
bread prices believe the increase is an act of
oppression by politicians.
"It isn't a casual increase but it has political
grounds as elections are finished and they can
easily put pressure on people," says pensioner
That issue became a subject of speculations for
many political figures, who say that the prices
have already been increased for eight months in
Moscow. Here, however, prices were kept steady
so that before elections citizens did not lose
confidence in their leadership.
Among those decrying the politics of bread is
former presidential candidate Artashes Geghamyan.
"They conducted elections, gave bribes and
now they must restore their financial situation,"
he says. "The quickest way of bringing back
spent money is an increase of prices for bread."