Inspections tightened to fight stockpiling
Turkish officials are tightening the screws on businesses and supermarkets to prevent them from stockpiling sunflower seed oil amid what they describe as unsubstantiated speculations suggesting that the country may run out of the product because of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.
Officials are also inspecting the prices of sunflower oil sold in 5-liter cans, which they say increased from between 90 Turkish Liras and 100 liras to 200 liras following the speculations.
Officials from the Trade Ministry and Finance and Treasury Ministry are teaming up with municipal police in the country’s all 81 provinces to conduct such inspections.
The Trade Ministry is in charge of checking the prices, while the Finance Ministry is inspecting inventories of both suppliers and supermarkets.
Officials said there was no reason and justification for the sharp increase in prices, noting that import duties were already lowered to zero with a decision announced on March 4 and that the zero tax would remain in place until June 30.
Supermarkets and retailers have enough of those products, while producers have sufficient raw materials, which could last until mid-April, they added.
“All this meant, Turkey was not likely to face any shortage until the next harvest. Moreover, the cost of importing this product would be lower because of the reduction in the tax. But prices rose suddenly on rumors,” they explained.
They said they are trying to figure out who is responsible for exorbitant prices; supermarkets, importing firms, or producers?
Officials also noted that following the rumors and speculations, people rushed to supermarkets to buy sunflower oil.
In the face of this panic buying, sunflower sales volume that would normally occur in 15 days happened in one day and prices rocketed, they added.
People typically keep enough sunflower oil at their homes all the time, said people from the industry.
The run on supermarkets was triggered by the rumors suggesting that there would shortage of sunflower oil, they explained. “As demand picked up, some supermarkets hiked prices from 100 liras to 180 liras.”