President of the Turkish Transporters Federation, Yüksel Rabbit, answered journalists’ questions about the increase in the prices of vegetables and fruits. Pointing out that vegetables and fruits are different from other products, Tavşan said, while other products are offered for sale by doing cost analysis, the price of vegetables and fruits is fully determined based on the supply and demand. Stating that it is not clear what the price of tomatoes will be in the case of Ankara, Istanbul or Izmir tomorrow, the price increases if the product is less, and the price increases if there is a lot of goods, Lapin said, “Tomorrow the tomatoes may be at 12 or 8.”
Emphasizing that vegetables and fruits cannot be stored like potatoes, onions and citrus fruits, Yüksel Tavşan said: “When there is no production, prices go up no matter what. . If production is abundant, prices will fall. The best example is onions. Onions were sold for 1.5-2 TL for weeks but since there was no potato it was around 4-4.5 TL for a long time. The onions grew for a week. Because production was halted in Adana, Ceyhan due to weather conditions. “Prices rose automatically,” he said.
Noting that the difference in quality is not taken into account when comparing the prices of vegetables and fruits, but there are at least ten different varieties even in tomato, Tavşan said it would not be easy that the price range is higher than normal among products of the same quality. Rabbit said:
“It would be more accurate if the same products were compared. The prices of the production areas are directly the price of the producer. If it is compared correctly and there is a high price, it may have intervened. Our relevant ministries, the Ministry of Commerce, the Ministry of Agriculture, follow up with the Food Committee of the Central Bank. All kinds of sanctions can be applied. Ministries should have monitoring units. If there is an exorbitant price, action should be taken by monitoring whether an artificial price increase is created or not. “
Stating that they criticize big market chains for their market dominance rather than their prices, Yüksel Tavşan said, “So many shops owned by so few people should not be allowed so many. They almost dominate the final consumer market. If it continues like this, they can resume production tomorrow. There is no open market for vegetables and fruits. There can be both positive and negative price pressures. It is not right to create such a dominant market. The Competition Authority also takes decisions to prevent this. We have 60 million tons of fruit and vegetable production. Small producers produce 95 percent. Small producers may find it difficult to market,” he said.
“PRODUCT PLANNING MUST BE DONE”
Yüksel Tavşan, emphasizing that the public should do product planning, noted that this way loss rates can be reduced and price stability can be achieved. Stating that there must be product planning in commodities, and that serious problems arise when there is not, Tavşan said that a “notification model” was introduced with the law of enacted in 2012, and that every product, from production to consumption in vegetables and fruits must be reported to the main servers of the Ministry of Commerce. Rabbit said that in this way it is possible to read the information from whom the product was purchased, how much it was purchased, to whom it was sold and where it would be taken. He said such speculative rumors can be avoided if the Commerce Ministry does the right job.
Yüksel Rabbit said that there are some staples such as potatoes, onions, tomatoes, lemons, which are indispensable in cooking, and 3 or 4 varieties can be added for winter and l summer, adding, “Planning needs to be done on these commodities. The other products are not very important, but these basic products are indispensable in the kitchen. Manufacturers should be protected by an insurance system, perhaps similar to the base price. He should not face the problem of how much he will sell the product. Face no evil. Cost plus profit margin should be applied.
WHY ARE THE PRICES HIGH?
Noting that prices have been high for quite some time and the main reason for the rise is due to unfavorable weather conditions, Tavşan continued:
“When there is not enough production due to negative weather conditions, prices go up. Costs, inputs. Everything from seeds to fuel has gone up. It is very difficult to eat products for 1, 2, 3 TL in the metropolises. Because this time, the producer will also be a loser. In our opinion, figures like 5, 6, 7 lira are now at least, although there is a problem with the consumer’s purchasing power, these prices seem normal. It is not possible to produce fruits and vegetables instantly. Vegetable and fruit prices are directly proportional to weather conditions.
DO PRICES INCREASE IN RAMADAN?
Yüksel Rabbit, on a question about how prices will be during Ramadan, said that the improved weather, especially in the Mediterranean region, will have a positive effect from Sunday. Noting that people’s demand increased a lot while they were fasting, and the price increased when demand increased, Rabbit said:
“It is impossible to do anything about it. You will set either a fixed price or a trading profit margin. He does not have a choice. When the consumer suddenly increases the demand, the price also increases. For this reason, we always warn you to be careful at the start of Ramadan. When the demand for a product, like oil, suddenly increased, there was no more oil. There is a similar situation with sugar right now. The consumer must be careful and find a way not to increase demand. Come on, the other one is on the shelf in the warehouse. Vegetables are not so lucky. Tomato cucumber is the product that is collected and brought. When there are no more, the price goes up. You cannot pick up what is in the warehouse.
Stating that there will be no high prices such as 20-30 TL for vegetables and fruits if the weather gets warmer, Tavşan pointed out that if the prices drop too much, the producer may be a victim and he must be kept alive.
Noting that the harvesting period of onions and potatoes is extended, the first crops are produced in Adana, Ceyhan and Hatay regions, but the harvest is postponed due to cold weather, Tavşan said that turning to imports in order to reduce the price of agricultural products puts both the exporter and the producer in a difficult situation.
Rabbit said the main reason for the high prices is lower production and the second reason is exports.
Emphasizing that the grower must be protected, Rabbit said that the apple bought from the grower for 1-1.5 TL costs 3-4 Lira.
Noting that high inputs put the producer in a difficult situation, Tavşan said, “The inputs are so high that the producer does not want to produce with these inputs. Because he takes risks. Nothing covers this risk. We have to make sure the manufacturer stands tall. He shouldn’t worry about tomorrow. When considering whether or not to sell, the manufacturer gets into trouble. When the producer avoids the production, it is reflected in the price accordingly,” he said.
“THE MINIMUM WAGE SHOULD BE RE-DETERMINED”
GIMAT board chairman Recai Kesal argued that the main problem is not the price of vegetables and fruits. Keskinal said: “The main problem is the salaries of workers in Turkey. This is the payer’s problem. There is a minimum wage structure that cannot buy goods produced in today’s inflationary environment for 4200 lira. There is a problem directly related to the purchasing power of the minimum wage. The goods produced by the peasants are cheap. What needs to be done is to redefine the minimum wage,” he said.
“I HAVE NEVER SEEN A COST INCREASE IN THE INDUSTRY FOR FORTY YEARS”
Mustafa Altunbilek, owner of Altunbilek Markets, said the biggest problem right now is the incredible increase in costs. Altunbilek said:
“I’ve been in the business for forty years. I have never seen the price increase so much. The price of the pack of 20 in which the parsley was put was 1-2 lira last year, today it is 10 lira. By selling 1 piece of parsley for 1 TL, today its cost has increased to 3-4 TL. We’re almost selling sweets on a ration card. They say you can’t gain more than five kilos. We wrote on the walls. A fight breaks out, he attacks the staff. There are black traders who collect it. State sweets. The government set the price. We deposit money in advance. But today, I cannot buy sugar from the private sector. I don’t know if the sugar production is more or less. Industrialists can’t find sugar.”