Turkey struggles to keep bread prices steady amid currency crisis

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AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE

Turkey has been attempting to keep the price of bread steady amid an ongoing currency crisis.

Earlier this week the Trade Ministry rejected a price increase of 25 percent introduced by the Turkish Bakers Federation for İstanbul, followed by Bursa province. Further, the ministry limited the profit margin on bread to 15 percent. It had previously been 30 percent.

Some bakeries in Ankara reportedly stopped producing bread as a response to the ministry’s decision.

A loaf of bread, weighing in at 250 grams, has been priced at TL1.25 (20 cents) since 2016, but bakery owners have been complaining about increased expenses.

During these two years, wheat prices have increased by 100 percent, while workers’ salaries also grew by around 30 percent. In addition, rent, energy costs and logistics have become more expensive; however, the ministry was not convinced of the necessity to enact a price hike.

According to CNN Türk, residents of İstanbul consume 20 million loaves of bread a day, amounting to TL 500 million ($90 million) in monthly revenue before tax for almost 3,000 registered grocery stores in the city.

Authorities, however, are not able to supervise every grocery store. İstanbul residents besieged the city’s mayor and governor on social media, saying that bread was selling for between TL 1.50 and TL 2 in several districts of the city.

İstanbul Mayor Mevlüt Uysal, on the other hand, described the supporters of a price increase in bread as “opportunists.”

Cihan Kolivar, an executive of a bread workers union and a bakery owner himself, told Turkish media on Friday that he would start to sell bread at TL 2 a loaf next month, defying the ministry’s intervention.

Turkey has been facing a currency crisis as the lira has lost nearly half of its value against the US dollar since the beginning of the year, resulting in a surge in costs in almost all areas.

Yearly inflation reached 24.52 percent in September, according to data released earlier this week.

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