TODAY’S – Food inflation hits the tables of the poor, retirees

Food inflation hits the tables of the poor, retireesHigh inflation on various food items has dealt a blow to the purchasing power of consumers with tight budgets in Turkey, market experts have warned on Wednesday.High food prices were the root cause for higher-than-anticipated inflation rates in 2014.

Although the rising prices were been primarily attributed to weather conditions — as a long-lasting period of drought punctuated by late bouts of frost resulted in disappointing yields of a wide range of fruits, nuts, vegetables and grains — the governmentand#39s agricultural policies have also come under fire for creating conditions under which small-scale agricultural producers have increasing difficulty staying afloat and consumers have trouble keeping enough food on the table.Consumer Rights Association (THD)hairman Turhan akar said last month that the purchasing power pertaining to 62 food items has decreased in the past year for retirees and civil servants.

akar called on the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock to enact policy change. andldquoImproper policies need to be abandoned immediately.

[The ministry] does not have the right to leave anyone under the hunger threshold just for the sake of the few,andrdquo said akarUnfavorable weather conditions throughout the country have resulted in great yield losses from agricultural land and greenhouses in recent months, causing the prices of fruits and vegetables to soar, many of which have become twice as expensive as they were at the beginning of the year Heavy precipitation as well as subsequent frost and blizzards hit various provinces of Turkey such as Antalya, AydIn, Adana, Izmir, MuIla and Yalova, where greenhouse cultivation is one of the most popular means of earning a living. The prices of fruits and vegetables — especially greenhouse vegetables — have skyrocketed in the last few months, rising by between 20 percent and 230 percent.

Potato prices surge amid high export demandMarket prices for potatoes, the traditional food for the low income, have doubled in certain areas within the past month, primarily due to a high export demand for frozen potato-based products, say industry representatives.Due to a heavy external demand for frozen French fries, potato puree and other products in addition to a high domestic demand for such products among fast food sellers and other restaurants, market prices for fresh potatoes have shot up, says Federation of Turkish Vegetable and Fruit Producers and Travelling Market Sellers Founding President Mehmet akman, speaking to the Cihan news agency.

andldquoAfter all of that, there may not be enough potatoes left to meet demand in the village. Under such circumstances, the price per kilo has risen to TL 4,andrdquo said akman.

While 4 million tons of potatoes were produced in Turkey in 2013 according to official statistics, local producers have estimated that 45 million tons were produced last year, although an estimated 6 million tons is required to meet domestic demand. Prices for potatoes, which are a staple in Turkey and central to many dishes, are expected to level off following an upcoming harvest.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman