The authorities have set up 50 sales points in Istanbul and 15 in Ankara. They are selling fruits and vegetables at half the current prices.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has described the excessive prices on fruits and vegetables as a form of "terrorist attack."
Prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages in Turkey have skyrocketed on a YoY basis since the lira plunged in last August.
The consumer price index (CPI) for these products jumped 30.97% from Jan 2018 to Jan 2019, the highest annual increase out of all goods and services, according to data from the Turkish Statistical Institute (Turkstat).
These products also registered the highest CPI increase on a MoM basis, with CPI increasing at 6.43% from Dec 2018 to Jan 2019.
Overall, the CPI in Turkey jumped 20.35% on a YoY basis in January this year.
The annual rate of CPI change in Turkey was at least 20% and above in the last few months, and peaked at an increase of 25.24% in October last year.
Commenting on the high food prices, Minister Berat Albayrak said that the authorities would take “the harshest measures” against individuals who are exploiting the situation in the country to charge excessive prices.
“We will not allow some to reach out to the pocket of our people. We will take the harshest measures possible against those trying to exploit the situation to charge excessive prices,” local media Hurriyet Daily News quoted Albayrak.
“We are taking firm steps in the fight against inflation which has started to decline. Inflation was 20.3% at the end of last year which was below our target. 2019 is also promising, but food inflation has had some negative impact.
“In January, food inflation hit a 20-year high. However, if food inflation had been what it was in December, the headline inflation, in fact, would have declined by 0.43% on a monthly basis and the annual inflation would have been 18.85%,” he said.
Hidden price hike
Turkey’s trade minister Ruhsar Pekcan pointed out that there has been a “hidden price hike” in at least 1,825 food products.
Hurriyet Daily News reported that since the Turkish lira had plunged in August last year, some companies did not reduce their product prices according to the now-eased lira, and had reduced the weight of their products at the same time.
A mobile application was also introduced for consumers to file unfair mark-ups in prices.
Earlier on, the Ministry of Trade also requested local officials to conduct regular inspections in supermarkets, street markets, grocery stores, and wholesale markets to keep track of prices of key items over a period of 12 months.
These items include apples, lemons, pepper, tomatoes, carrots, zucchinis, onions, mushroom, cucumbers, and potatoes.
The officials will also request merchants to present their receipts for buying the items, so that the authorities can compare the differences between the buying and selling price of these items.
There are also reports of supermarket chains halting the sales of expensive vegetables, such as pepper and eggplant, in order to avoid confrontation with the government.