Baklava makers in Turkey sour over rising pistachio prices
ANKARA/GAZİANTEP - Hürriyet
The price of a special type of pistachio that is used in Turkish sweet baklava has climbed to 90 Turkish Liras a kilogram, up from just 30 to 35 liras last year due to low harvest production coupled with vendors’ stocking, baklava makers say. AA PhotoTurkish baklava makers have called on the government to intervene against the excessive upsurge in pistachio prices, which is allegedly being caused by “hoarders and smugglers.”
Baklava makers, whose businesses are particularly dependent on pistachios, were in Ankara on Feb. 21 to call for the related ministries to intervene in the prices by taking the necessary measures.
Pistachios, which are used in a wide range of sweets, including chocolate and halvah, are currently selling at almost double last year’s price. Producers say the price of the special type of pistachio that is used in baklava and produced in the southeastern Turkish province of Gaziantep – the capital of pistachios – has climbed to 90 Turkish Liras a kilogram, up from just 30 to 35 liras last year.
Sector representatives accused hoarders of withholding a large amount of the product after the price of the nut, known as “green gold” in Turkey, jumped to 65 liras four months ago, causing turmoil in the market.
“Even though there are no factors that would cause such a price rise, speculators, who have caused an artificial price hike by continuing to stock last year’s products, are also benefiting from the import ban, inflicting damage both on us and the country’s economy,” said Mehmet Yıldırım, the chairman of Turkish Baklava and Dessert Producers Association (BAKTAD), which led the visit to Ankara.
Cihan Koçer, the head of an online platform selling products from Gaziantep called Antep Sepeti, said that because pistachios have gone onto the black market, the government should give permission to import.
Koçer also warned that the rise in pistachio prices would likely have a dramatic impact on baklava prices if the problem remains unsolved. Most baklava makers have already bought the pistachio they will use this season, but the looming tourist season and Ramadan will add to the pressure on prices, he said.
In addition, a plunging harvest caused by a combination of drought and an off year for the nut have compounded the sector’s problems.
Serdar Seyidoğlu, the CEO of Gaziantep-based baklava maker Seyidoğlu, said the pistachio harvest had plunged from 350 tons to 70 to 80 tons.
BAKTAD members said they had separate talks with Finance and Food and Agriculture Ministries, as well as Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) Chairman Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu, with the aim of finding a solution to the escalating problem.
“We want prohibitions against both speculators in the domestic market and pistachios that are brought illegally into the country,” Yılmaz said in a statement released by the association.
According to the statement, the ministry officials they spoke with said the government would intensify control over the market and embark on new studies to find a sustainable solution to the problem.