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Despite falling world prices, food prices continue to rise in Turkey

While global food prices are falling, according to a recent report of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), prices in Turkey continue to rise, implying that large price increases in Turkish markets stem not only from unfavorable weather conditions, as officials in the country have been claiming, but other factors such as unfair practices of intermediaries and lack of unity among producers.

The food price index of the FAO decreased by 6.4 percent to 192.6 points globally in November; however, it surged to 272 points in Turkey in the same period. Likewise, global food prices saw an increase of 92 percent during the last 11 years while in Turkey it skyrocketed by 172 percent in the same period.

A prolonged drought this summer brought about an increase in the prices of almost all food products and triggered a hike in inflation rates for three consecutive months. Even though a slight decrease in the consumer price index (CPI) was observed in September, it rose again in October. Nonetheless, the upward trend in the prices continued in November, even though disadvantageous weather conditions no longer had an effect on the products.

Speaking to the Bugün daily, Agriculturalists’ Association of Turkey (TZD) President İbrahim Yetkin called on producer unions to decrease prices and opined that European farmers are members of cooperatives that sell products directly to consumers, which encourages price stability. However, he added, prices in Turkey rise between four and five times because of intermediaries. Producers sell their products for very low prices and yet consumers buy them at high prices, said Yetkin, claiming that the situation damages both buyers and sellers.

Turkish Union of Agricultural Chambers (TZOB) President Şemsi Bayraktar also commented on the subject during his interview with Bugün. Like Yetkin, he lamented the role of intermediaries. Bayraktar underlined that the presence of such market players makes prices vulnerable to speculation. Bayraktar listed other reasons paving the way for continuous increase in prices such as disunity between producers, poor transportation and storage infrastructure and low volume of production per producer.

While the price of dairy products decreased by 29 percent per liter globally, it increased by 26 percent in Turkey during the last year. Likewise, the price of vegetable oil per liter dropped by 17 percent globally; however, it rose 18 percent in Turkey in the same period.

The price of a kilogram of white sugar fell by 8 percent globally, but it rose by 10 percent in Turkey. Furthermore, the price of a kilogram of grains decreased by 6 percent on average; the percentage of price increase of these products hovered around 30 percent last year. The highest increases this year occurred in the prices of hazelnuts, which rose 133 percent, dried apricots with 127 percent, of dry figs with 61 percent and pistachios with 48 percent.