Frost-hit apricot and hazelnut prices on rise

Frost-hit apricot and hazelnut prices on rise

Burak Coşan ISTANBUL / Hürriyet
Frost-hit apricot and hazelnut prices on rise

Apricot crop losses from frost are estimated to have reached around 90 percent this year, while hazelnut crops has been hit by around 70 percent.

Heavy frost experienced at the end of March has triggered steep hikes in apricot and hazelnut prices even before the harvest time, raising complaints from retailers who accuse speculators.  

Heavy snow fell at higher elevations, while temperatures occasionally dropped to -10 Celsius across Turkey, exacting a severe toll on a number of crops, particularly in the Black Sea, Central Anatolian and East Anatolian regions.

Turkish agricultural production received a large blow from hail and heavy storms between March 29 and 31, but some products like apricots and hazelnuts, the production of which are concentrated in certain regions, have been affected even more adversely.

The crop loss from apricots, which provide for around 60,000 families in the southern province of Malatya, is estimated to have reached 90 percent, while losses in hazelnuts have climbed up to 70 percent in Turkey, the world’s largest hazelnut supplier.

The frost brought heavy hikes along, causing the apricot shelf price to surpass 42 Turkish Liras at certain locations.

Many retailers have reportedly begun to cease dried apricot purchases, as consumer demand has witnessed a sharp decline due to high prices.

Further hikes ahead

The dealers’ greatly raising prices, even before the harvest yield, which is expected to be completed within 10 to 15 days, has been dubbed opportunism by some sector representatives.

Turkish Agricultural Chambers Union (TZOB) President Şemsi Bayraktar has called the price mark ups “speculative moves.”

“If we didn’t experience a natural disaster, there wouldn’t be price rise. Prices are being manipulated,” he said.

Turkish Agriculturists’ Association (TZD) İbrahim Yetkin, meanwhile, said consumers are put in a tight situation by an imposition of hikes before the harvest.

“When the products are harvested, another hike will be introduced, citing ‘lack of enough products,’” he said.

“Products shouldn’t be put on the market immediately to keep the prices in balance. However, traders have raised the price using the frost and the drought as excuses. Their only aim is yielding more profit,” he said.

However, defending the traders price policy, the head of Malatya Commerce Stock Exchange, Gürsel Özbey, said some of last year’s yield was exported, so dealers want to earn the most from the products they have left.

“You can’t say traders are opportunists just because of this,” he said.