Annual inflation in Russia accelerated to 14.53% as of 18 March, its highest since November 2015 and up from 12.54% a week earlier, the economy ministry said, as the battered rouble sent prices soaring amid unprecedented Western sanctions.
Inflation accelerated sharply as the currency fell to an all-time low earlier in March and demand for a wide range of goods, from food staples to cars, rose sharply on expectations that their prices will rise further.
Weekly inflation in Russia slowed slightly to 1.93% in the week to 18 March from 2.09% a week earlier, taking the year-to-date increase in consumer prices to 7.67%, data from statistics service Rosstat (The Federal State Statistics Service) showed on Wednesday.
In the week to 18 March, prices on nearly everything from baby food to pharmaceuticals rose sharply, with prices of sugar and onions rising by more than 13%, Rosstat data showed.
Sanctions following Russia's invasion of Ukraine have boosted demand for sugar and other food staples there, and store shelves have been emptying due to food hoarding. Yet sanctions may also make it harder for shippers to get paid for their cargoes.
The volume of sugar being shipped is unusually high, traders said last week, noting Russia tends to import roughly 100,000 tonnes of sugar per year. Russia is not a notable importer or exporter of sugar, but Russians have started to hoard the sweetener.
The cost of sugar rose by an average of 14% in Russia, with certain regions seeing increases of up to 37.1%, a BBC report said, citing data from Rosstat.
The price of onions was up 13.7% across the country, with some areas seeing a 40.4% spike, according to the report. Nappies were dearer by 4.4%, while black tea and toilet paper reported increases of 4% and 3%, respectively.
The central bank, which targets annual inflation at 4%, held its key rate at 20% in March and warned of an imminent spike in inflation and a looming economic contraction. The bank expects inflation to slow to the target in 2024.
Russian agriculture minister, Dmitry Patrushev, said the country is looking for suppliers of packaging for baby food and dairy products due to disruption in supplies caused by the Western sanctions.