Turkey to subsidise meat in effort to control prices

Turkey’s government is willing to provide up to 150 million liras ($25.4) in meat subsidies this year to curb price fluctuations, said a presidential decree published in the Official Gazette on Thursday.

The subsidies will cover price differences that occur as a result of sales and purchases of the Meat and Milk Institution. The institution has a regulating role in the livestock sector and is responsible of ensuring stable development of the national livestock industry by promoting livestock breeding.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is to issue a directive that will detail the conditions for the subsidy. 

Inflation in Turkey has surged over the past year after concerns about an overheating economy and a political crisis with the United States prompted Turks and investors to sell the lira. The currency dropped 28 percent in 2018 and has weakened a further 8 percent this year, while inflation edged up to 19.7 percent in March.

Food prices jumped as a result of increasing inflation and the Turkish authorities opened vegetable and fruit stalls in major cities selling produce at prices lower than market rates while the country was heading to local polls on March 31. Minister of Finance and Treasury Berat Albayrak promised reform in agriculture in his new economic programme presented earlier this month. 

Livestock production is also at risk, as Turkey has become more dependant on meat imports due to the increases in wholesale and retail prices of carcass beef and lamb.

The Meat and Milk Institution also sells meat at prices lower than market rates. Turkish news site Diken reported on Wednesday that people formed long queues in front of the regulator’s sales point in the eastern province of Sivas in order to buy cheap meat before the beginning of Ramadan. 

Birgün newspaper reported on Thursday that the Ministry of Agriculture increased the cost of reduced-price meats at three major supermarket chains by 35 percent. According to a measure put into effect in 2017 to decrease meat prices, the Meat and Milk Institution provides meat to supermarket chains at a below-market rate.