Food prices high in Turkey amid 5-year global low

Although recent figures from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) show world food prices in April at their lowest since June 2010, figures from the Turkish Statistics Institute (TurkStat) and the central bank indicate that food prices in Turkey rose 14.36 year-on-year last month.

On average, fruit and vegetable prices have risen higher than the standard increase at 26 percent. The prices for grains, legumes, olive oil, milk, and other staples have also increased. Current marked prices show that red and green lentils cost TL 6 per kilo and beans TL 7 per kilo, while chickpeas are TL 6 per kilo. These products all cost between TL 2 and 4 last year.

While food prices rose dramatically last year amid an extended period of drought, bad weather has continued to create headaches for agricultural producers in the field and for consumers at the supermarket in 2015. Heavy precipitation as well as subsequent frost and blizzards hit various provinces of Turkey where greenhouse cultivation is one of the primary means of earning a living, such as Antalya, Aydin, Adana, izmir, Muila and Yalova. The prices of fruits and vegetables — especially greenhouse vegetables — have skyrocketed in the last few months, rising by between 20 percent and a staggering 230 percent.

Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci said earlier this week that Turkey was considering importing certain food products in order to combat high prices. He said that if the process doesn’t interfere with domestic producers, the country would be open to imports, excluding products such as wheat, processed goods, and red meat.

However, sector exporters have dismissed this suggestion as a possible solution. “Food prices will not fall via imports. Measures need to be taken to protect the supply-demand balance,” said Agriculturalists’ Association of Turkey (TZD) President ibrahim Yetkin, speaking to Today’s Zaman. Yetkin added that agricultural producers needed to organize and remove market intermediaries from the picture.