ISET’s Khachapuri Index kept declining in April, which is in line with seasonal trends. The average cost of cooking one standard Imeretian khachapuri currently stands at 3.32 GEL, which is 2.5% lower month-on-month (compared to March 2017), and 4.9% above year-on-year (compared to April 2016).

The current underdeveloped structure of Georgian dairy sector makes milk prices high and noncompetitive. According to FAO-EBRD data, the farm gate prices of milk differ between commercial farms and smallholders, and the difference between the two prices is mostly stable throughout the year (except for the winter period when smallholders have almost no milk to sell).

In March 2017, the national average price of cooking Imeretian khachapuri declined to 3.41 GEL, which is 6.9% lower compared to the previous month (February 2017), and 4.1% above its value a year ago (March 2016).

Such a noticeable monthly decline in the price of khachapuri is driven by the seasonal adjustment in the price of cheese, which stood at 7.31 GEL in March 2017, and is 12.2% below last month’s value (February 2017). As mentioned in a previous publication, this year the price of milk started its seasonal decline in March. The Easter effect, more specifically Great Lent (which began on February 27th) might have strengthened the downward price trend, as demand on cheese and other milk products is lower during the Lent period.

In March 2017, the average cost of cooking one standard Imeretian khachapuri dropped to 3.41GEL, which is 6.9% lower month-on-month (compared to February 2017), and 4.1% higher year-on-year (compared to March 2016).

In general, at this time of the year (beginning as early as February), we observe the start of a seasonal reduction in the price of khachapuri, driven by the seasonal decline in milk prices. According to Khachapuri Index data from recent years, this downward trend continues from February until late June, and sometimes even through July. The Khachapuri Index data from 2012 through 2017, confirms this same trend every year.

In February 2017, the average cost of cooking one standard Imeretian khachapuri decreased to 3.66 GEL, which is 0.2% higher month-on-month (compared to January 2016), and 6.2% higher year-on-year (that is, compared to February 2016). The main contributors to the y/y Khachapuri Index inflation were cheese (12.1%) and milk (3.6%). The prices of the four other ingredients decreased: flour (2.6%), butter (0.4%), eggs (2.0%), and yeast (1.0%).

Recently, the quality of cheese sold in open bazaars has been hotly discussed topic in the media. In Georgia, fresh milk is mostly produced by smallholder farmers, and it is very difficult to control quality. While industrial cheese-makers use pasteurized milk, a large share of cheese in Georgia is produced by hand at home, and it is made with soft, raw milk. Using unpasteurized fresh milk in cheese production can cause serious infectious diseases. Apart from the food safety considerations (and the lack of quality checks), the artisanal home production of cheese is creating unfair competition in the market.

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