Turkey fines firms for exorbitant food price hikes after Erdoğan complains

Turkey’s Trade Ministry fined 120 companies a total of 3.6 million liras for charging exorbitant prices for food after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan complained about rising costs.

Officials levied the fines of between 10,911 liras and 100,910 liras after inspecting the shelves of 1,674 businesses in the past week, the ministry said on Wednesday. Other companies received financial penalties of up to 545,550 liras for hoarding goods, it said.

Erdoğan said this week that officials would investigate increases in the price of food, including cooking oil, fruit and vegetables. His government is facing increasing public discontent about rising prices.

Turkey’s consumer price inflation accelerated to 14.6 percent in December from 14 percent the previous month. Food prices climbed by an annual 20.6 percent, according to official data.  

Fifty-one percent of the population say annual inflation in Turkey exceeds 30 percent, according to a December survey published this month by research company Metropoll. 

The Trade Ministry said that its inspections of businesses would not undermine the principles of the free market.

Global food prices have risen sharply in recent months after the dollar fell, droughts occurred in key producer countries and the cost of transportation rose due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Turkish agriculture needs investment and reform and food prices in Turkey cannot be driven down through presidential orders, Ahval contributor Güldem Atabay said in an article on Tuesday.