September-October food prices saw highest increase in Turkey: OECD report

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Turkey had the highest food price inflation by far among the 38 OECD countries in September and October, the Sözcü daily reported on Wednesday, citing the latest OECD Consumer Price Index (CPI).

According to the report, food prices in Turkey rose by 28.8 percent in September and 27.4 percent in October, compared to the same period of the previous year.

Turkey is followed by Colombia with an increase of 12.4 percent in September and 13.7 percent in October, and Australia, with an increase of 10.6 percent both months, compared to 2020.

Apart from Turkey, Colombia and Australia, no other OECD country had double-digit food price inflation, Sözcü said.

Overall annual inflation in Turkey hit 19.6 and 19.9 in September and October 2021, respectively, while it surged 5.2 percent in the OECD area in the 12 months to October 2021, reaching the highest rate since February 1997.

Tevfik Türk, İzmir branch head of Turkey’s Chamber of Agricultural Engineers (ZMO), told Sözcü that the increase in food prices was expected to continue in the short term.

Listing the reasons why food price inflation in Turkey was far beyond global levels, Türk added: “From fertilizer to pesticide, all our main inputs are imported and [their prices] increase as the dollar [gains value against the Turkish lira]. From boxes to diesel fuel, we are also dependent on foreign sources at every stage of logistics. … Thus, the food reaches our table with its price increased incrementally.”

The Turkish lira, which has recently been in free fall, lost about a quarter of its value against the US dollar in November and almost half of its value since the beginning of the year.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s unconventional economic policies have been blamed for the country’s currency crisis. The president subscribes to the unorthodox belief that low interest rates are the antidote to high inflation.

Erdoğan blames “opportunists” for the rising cost of basic services and frequently claims Turkey is doing far better than Western countries in the supply of food.

He raised eyebrows when he claimed in October that Turkey had been enjoying an abundance of consumer goods while supermarket shelves in Europe and the US were empty, and that the people of Germany and France couldn’t find food and were waiting in line for it.

Earlier this month Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), urged the management of supermarkets not to increase basic food prices in winter amid a sharp drop in Turks’ purchasing power due to double-digit inflation and a currency crisis shaking the country’s economy.

Listing flour, oil, milk, bulgur, pasta, lentils, eggs, cheese, salt and a different kind of vegetable every month as the “10 products of survival,” the CHP leader asked supermarkets not to increase their prices so that people in Turkey could “get through” the winter.

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