Argentines struggle in the shadow of 100 per cent inflation

A butcher talks to a customer at a market, as Argentines are increasingly feeling the impact of one of the world's highest inflation rates, with annual price rises nearing 100 per cent, straining people's budgets as the cost of food, gas and services far outstrips salaries, in Buenos Aires, Argentina on 14 February 2023.

Argentina is in the grip of inflation that is expected to break past 100 per cent on an annual basis when authorities release February data later on Tuesday, the first time it has hit triple figures since a period of hyperinflation in 1991.

Retiree Irene Devita knows all too well the impact: a lighter shopping bag and less food on the table at home.

In a market fair in San Fernando on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Devita, 74, looked through her groceries on Tuesday, checking price tags that change each week with monthly inflation around 6 per cent, one of the highest levels in the world.

"The other day I came and asked for three tangerines, two oranges, two bananas and half a kilo of tomatoes. When he told me it cost 650 pesos ($3.22), I told him take everything out and leave just the tomatoes because I don't have enough money," she said. "There's just nothing, there's no money, people don't have anything, so how do they buy?"

The government has tried in vain to tame the rising prices, which dent people's earning power, savings, the country's economic growth and the ruling party's chances of clinging onto power in crunch elections later this year.

On the streets, inflation is all many people can talk about. It seeds frustration and anger as salaries often fall behind the cost of goods despite government schemes to cap prices and limit grains exports to boost domestic supply.

Patricia Quiroga, 50, said 100 per cent inflation was impossible to bear as she waiting on line to do her shopping.

"I am tired, tired, just tired of all this, of the politicians who fight while the people die of hunger," she told Reuters. "This can't go on any more."