Retail food prices in Tbilisi supermarkets increased by 1.4% m/m (that is, compared to the middle of February) and 3.8% y/y (that is, compared to March of 2016). On a biweekly basis, the biggest price increases happened for eggplants, onions and rice (price increased by 34.3%, 21.7% and 19.2%, respectively). As to the biggest drops in prices, cucumbers, buckwheat and vegetable oil experienced the most significant price decreases (31.8%, 12.4% and 3.1% respectively).
Although worldwide food prices have been steadily decreasing over the last couple of years, food prices in Georgia have increased y/y. This increase was captured both by the National Statistics Office of Georgia (Geostat) and ISET’s Retail FPI. According to Geostat’s latest report on inflation, food price inflation in Georgia in February reached 5.5% y/y (that is, compared to the last year’s February). For Tbilisi it was even higher, and reached 5.8% y/y.
According to the Retail FPI, by the end of February food prices had decreased slightly by 0.01% m/m (that is compared to end of January), and by 2.6% y/y (that is compared to the February 2016). Although overall FPI did not change very much either m/m nor y/y, some foods experienced quite notable changes in prices. Thus cucumber, carrot, and tangerine prices increased by 25.7%, 9.8% and 6.5%, respectively, whereas eggplant, vegetable oil and tomato prices decreased by 41.7%, 5.8% and 5.0%, respectively.
In the last three years, carrot prices have presented quite an interesting trend. In 2015, they were relatively high, then decreased by 40% in 2016, and then increased again by almost 30% in 2017.
Food prices continue to follow the latest trends. Retail FPI shows a 2.6% increase m/m (that is, compared to January 2017) and a 4.9% decline y/y (that is, compared to February 2016). During the last two weeks, matsoni, tea and carrots lost value (by 10.4%, 6.2% and 6.2% respectively), whereas the prices of cabbage, greens and eggplant increased (by 25.0%, 16.1% and 14.9% respectively).
Higher vegetable prices are not surprising given seasonality. However, garlic prices have been continuously increasing during the last couple of months. Prices started rising in October 2016, and are now much higher (by 65%) than in 2015. Such a big difference y/y shows that increasing prices are caused by some other factors rather than seasonality.
By the end of January, food prices in Tbilisi’s major supermarkets had increased by 7.2% compared to December 2016. Although prices increased m/m, there was a slight decrease in prices y/y. Food prices declined by 5.5% compared to January 2016.
Most of the prices increased when analyzed on a biweekly basis. Pork, coriander and butter experienced the most drastic price increases since the middle of January. Pork prices increased by 29.8%, whereas coriander and butter gained in value by 24.0% and 8.4%, respectively. In contrast, eggplants, cucumbers and tomatoes became cheaper by 20.2%, 8.9%, and 5%, respectively.
In the first half of January, Georgian retail food prices went up. Compared to mid-December, ISET’s Retail Food Price index experienced a significant 10.1% increase. Prices increased across key food commodities as the result of the holiday-related slump in demand. The Georgian lari depreciation applied additional upward pressure on the GEL prices of imported food products.
The largest bi-weekly increases were observed for pork (35%), carrots (35%), and tomatoes (34%). At this time of the year, most fruits and vegetables become more expensive. However, it turns out that “borsch” is not a popular dish during the holidays, as prices dropped for cabbage (20%) and onions (4%). Unlike other fruits, the price of bananas, which became more expensive last month (price of bananas increased by 15% m/m), now decreased by 3%.