North Macedonia faces food price surge as price protection measures expire

North Macedonia faces food price surge as price protection measures expire
Shoppers at the Old Bazaar in North Macedonia's capital Skopje. / Valentina Dimitrievska in Skopje
By Valentina Dimitrievska in Skopje February 28, 2024

As of March 1, North Macedonia’s citizens may face a new price shock as the measure guaranteeing prices for some basic food products is set to expire.

The Ministry of Economy is counting on a new law to deal with unfair competition and high prices. They hope that this will make products cheaper for people. However, as the legislative process continues without a scheduled new session, concerns are mounting regarding the potential repercussions of allowing this protective measure to lapse, as Kanal 5 reported on February 27.

Introduced last September, the initiative for guaranteed prices aimed to shield citizens from the adverse impacts of fluctuating food prices. The impending expiration on February 29 has raised questions about whether the new law will be put in place on time to stop food prices from going up.

"We anticipate the swift adoption of this legal solution, fully compliant with European regulation and adorned with the European flag. With the implementation of this law, we anticipate a decrease in the prices of food and agricultural products," according to the economy ministry.

The government's decision, enacted on September 19, 2023, was aimed at stabilizing the market and ensuring the availability of essential food items. Maximum prices for selected products were determined based on retail prices in effect on August 1, 2023, resulting in a minimum reduction of 10% from the original prices.

The government has taken steps to fix the prices of 50 goods in collaboration with retailers, which were labeled as "guaranteed price" in grocery stores.

North Macedonia experienced one of the highest inflation rates in the region, peaking at nearly 20% in October and November 2022, before gradually subsiding.