Skyrocketing sesame seed prices threaten mainstay of Turkish diet, the simit

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A street vendor sells Turkish traditional bakery "Simit", on March 20, 2017 at Mahmutpasa district in Istanbul. AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE

The simit, a small, circular bread covered with sesame seeds popular in Turkey, is under threat by skyrocketing sesame seed prices, with some producers considering a halt in production, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.

“We have seen a significant increase in sesame seed prices. We could have handled this if the sesame seed prices were at around 9 lira,” Ahmet Yalçın, the head of the Ankara Pastry Chamber, said, adding that they don’t want to raise simit prices.

Sesame seed prices recently rose to TL 12 a kilo in July, a 76.4 percent hike over the same period last year.

In several cities the price of simit has even surpassed the price of regular bread, according to the Karar daily.

“Due to the skyrocketing increase in sesame seed prices, our simit production is unfortunately about to stop,” Yalçın said.

According to İlker Önel, the president of a merchants association in İstanbul, one of the main reasons behind the price rise is the drastic loss in value of the Turkish lira against foreign currencies, around 25 percent in this year alone, the Habertürk news website reported.

Double-digit inflation has also adversely affected producers, according to Önel.

Turkey consumes around 120,000 tons of sesame seeds annually, although it only produces approximately 15,000 tons, resulting in almost total dependence on imports.

China has emerged as a strong rival since the country imports 650,000 tons of sesame seeds in addition to its own production of the same amount.

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