Turkish supermarkets to take some vegetables off shelves
Salim Uzun - ISTANBUL
In the face of skyrocketing prices, some supermarket chains have decided to stop selling certain vegetables to avoid confrontation with the government.
Supermarkets have come under pressure as they are accused of superficially inflating prices of goods sold at their stores.
For instance, supermarkets take pepper and eggplant – whose prices have risen to 20 Turkish Liras per kilo – off their shelves, but they will continue to offer those products to customers in the well-off areas where people can afford to buy them.
In a recent speech he delivered on Jan. 21, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan vowed to fight against excessive prices charged by supermarkets and hold those responsible accountable.
Erdoğan criticized the discrepancies between the prices of the goods and products sold in supermarkets and street markets.
He argued that some people are acting like profiteers, using “market conditions” as a pretext to hike prices.
“Store managers have shared their correspondents with their headquarters and let us know that they would not sell products whose prices have skyrocketed,” said Nevzat Akcan, the chairman of the Antalya Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Brokers’ Association.
Supermarkets do not want to come to loggerheads with consumers and relevant ministries, Akcan added.
“Peppers and eggplants are sold for 9-10 liras at the wholesale markets and if they are sold in supermarkets, their price tag will be some 20 liras. Nobody wants to take risks,” he explained.
Akcan thinks such restrictions could spread to other products.
Supermarket managers suggested that they acted upon directives from the headquarters.
“In line with new planning, we have stopped selling products whose prices soared. We do not know how long this practice would continue or whether its scope would widen to cover other products,” they said.
Mustafa Altunbilek, the chairman of the Retailers’ Federation of Turkey (TPF), confirmed the news.
“We have decided not to sell such high-cost products. This resolution, however, does not apply to all of our branches. Supermarkets, which are located in the areas where low-income groups live, will not sell those products. Others will continue to sell those products where there is demand,” Altunbilek said.
The TPF has a total of 361 members with a network of 3,900 stores nationwide.
In his speech in Ankara earlier this month, Erdoğan said: “This is not the period where one seeks to increase profit by using such volatility, but these are times to support the country and the nation by giving up on profit if necessary.”
He added that they could not turn a deaf ear to peoples’ complaints regarding high prices.
According to the latest official data, on a monthly basis, fruit and vegetable prices rose by 5.87 percent in December last year, whereas the annual increase was 30.8 percent.