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food prices have increased by an average of 70% in one year

The Turkish authorities are unable to control an increasingly galloping inflation. 61% year on year and new highs reached in March, according to official figures released earlier this week.

It is particularly in the area of ​​food that the rise in prices is most impressive: food and non-alcoholic beverages are on average 70% more expensive today in Turkey than a year ago. An example with tomatoes, a breakfast essential and many Turkish dishes: their price increased by 192% between March 2021 and March 2022.

Double-digit inflation has been a constant in Turkey since 2017, but since last fall the numbers have been soaring. The main cause remains the monetary policy of President Erdogan, who refuses to raise the Central Bank’s rates and has even lowered them several times in recent months. This caused a fall in the currency, the pound, and therefore an increase in the cost of imports. And the war in Ukraine has aggravated the situation, since it has led, on the international markets, to a rise in the prices of energy and of certain agricultural products that Turkey imports massively.

This surge in prices is pushing more and more Turks to stock up, for fear that prices will continue to rise, especially sunflower oil, the symbol of this phenomenon. Turkey imports more than a third of its needs, half of which from Russia and 15% from Ukraine. In February, before the war, the Turks were already paying half as much as a year earlier. And since the start of the war, prices have jumped another 13%. This actually encourages some to stockpile, like Rosita, an Istanbul native from the Philippines, who proudly brandishes the ten liters of oil purchased a month earlier.

“I paid £94 a bottle. That’s a good price. Today they’re £150.”

Rosita, a resident of Istanbul

at franceinfo

“My friends, they’re sorry. They tell me: ‘You’re too lucky to have plenty!’ I told them to buy some, but they didn’t listen to me. So yes, I’m lucky!” Rosita also confides that she has given up certain products that have become overpriced, such as olive oil, and does everything to reduce her bills as much as possible. She only heats herself with a small electric heater that she only turns on for 30 minutes a day. Electricity prices jumped 125% at the start of the year, after having already increased by 400% between 2018 and 2021.

The authorities present these difficulties as cyclical, as being linked to international markets and, since the end of February, to the war in Ukraine. So they relativize them and, at the same time, they multiply the reductions in VAT on basic necessities. The finance minister promised that inflation would return to a “reasonable” level by the end of the year. Recep Tayyip Erdogan does not have much choice: discontent is brewing in the population, and the Turkish president must redress the economic situation before the next elections in June 2023.

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