Turkish producers decreased weight of 1,825 products on the sly: Minister
The weight of at least 1,825 food products have been decreased by producers since the start of last summer, Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan has said, calling the situation a “hidden price hike.”
After the currency fluctuations in August 2018, some companies did not reduce their price levels in accordance with the now-eased Turkish Lira, while also diminishing their products’ weight in grams.
Some 6,500 products were detected to constitute unfair competition elements while the weights of 1,825 were tampered with among the 90,000 examined products in about six months, the minister said in a press release.
Pekcan told journalists on Feb. 3 that an Unsafe Products Information System (GÜBİS) has been established to deal with issues of such kind, along with hotlines for consumer complaints.
Furthermore, a mobile app has been developed, which came into effect in November 2018, for consumers to file complaints regarding unfair mark-ups.
The app was downloaded 57,000 times, according to the minister, and 7,834 complaints were made via the platform.
“When [a consumer] takes the photo of a product and submits it, immediately, the Provincial Directorate of Commerce steps in. They take action regarding this and give feedback on what was done about the product,” Pekcan said.
Pekcan also said the directorate is now conducting a more detailed research and detects which stores are selling the product.
Even though the ministry was able to detect any element that deceives the consumer, it did not have any power to impose penalties.
This was due to the ministry’s principles of free market economy, Pekcan stressed.
Pekcan said that upon research, the Board of Advertisements has started to be used as an intermediary that allows the ministry to impose penalties over it.
“We can fine 70,000 Liras [around $13,380] at most. We have to increase it ten-fold but it is only with the Board of Advertisements,” she said.
According to Pekcan, during the transportation of the products, 30 percent casualties occur.
In order to solve this, packaging standards and cold chain obligations are being implemented, the minister underlined.
“With this system, the product will be delivered more quickly. They will be delivered from the producer directly to the consumer. If 30 percent casualties can be averted, prices will decrease by 30 percent,” she added.
Regarding the regulation on the high prices of bazaars and market halls, Pekcan said regional halls for producers and consumers will be established in 30 regions.
Producer associations will be supported, Pekcan said, adding that associations will rent the shops for much lower prices.
“Middlemen can either stand with producer associations or become merchants. The profit and loss should all belong to the merchant,” she stressed.
In addition, on concerns about the removal of middlemen from the markets, the minister said that everybody will be registered and nobody will be driven out of the system.
“We will bring professional administrators. We will start with two pilot projects,” she added.