(Bloomberg) -- A sharp rise in the prices of beans and peanut oil is making Nigeria’s favorite breakfast snack unaffordable for the country’s poor.

The cost of beans, the main ingredient in akara -- fried snacks that are sold all over Africa’s most populous nation-- jumped 32% in May compared with a year earlier, almost double the headline inflation rate of almost 18%.

The price of peanut oil, which is usually used to fry the mashed beans into hard brown balls, surged 47% in the same period, data released this week by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics show. The cost of palm oil, an alternative, jumped 43%.

Akara is sold in markets and by the roadside, usually by women -- who struggle to find alternative work -- in the largely informal economy. A cheap filling meal in a country with the most people living in extreme poverty in the world, it’s enjoyed across the social spectrum.

Some women have now abandoned the trade. Others have followed multinational food companies including Unilever and Procter & Gamble Co., conscious of the cost-sensitive Nigerian market, in reducing the size of their product while keeping prices stable.

“Things are just ridiculously expensive,” said Amina Ahmadu, who sells akara on a major street in Wuye, a suburb of the capital, Abuja, and has shrunk her portions. “It’s becoming harder and harder to make any profit,” she said.

Surging prices are likely to be a campaign issue in Africa’s biggest democracy ahead of presidential elections in February. Both major party candidates have promised to fix the dire economic situation. Nigeria also confronts rampant unemployment and sluggish growth.

A year ago, four pieces of akara would go for 10 naira (2 U.S. cents) in Ahmadu’s area. Now that amount buys just one. Besides having to contend with higher ingredient prices, vendors also pay more for cooking gas, with costs tripling in the last year, according to Ahmadu. 

Soaring inflation could push 15 million more Nigerians into extreme poverty by the end of this year, the World Bank said in its Nigeria Development Update report published this month. The bank forecast that inflation in the West African country will remain “among the highest in sub-Saharan Africa in 2022.” 

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