Nov 30 2018

Turkey’s competition authority says no stockpiling of onions and potatoes

A preliminary report prepared by the Turkish Competition Authority said potato and onion farmers had not been engaged any anti-competitive acts that may create an increase in prices, Milli Gazete reported on Friday. 

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has accused growers and sellers of being behind rising food price inflation by stockpiling produce. Police last week raided onion and potato warehouses across the country to find sellers suspected of stockpiling after Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak ordered inspectors to investigate storage depots and count the onions there. 

The Competition Authority report said the agricultural land used for potato production had decreased by 17 percent between 2012 and 2017 as a result of the Ministry of Agriculture’s policies. The agricultural land used for onion production has also decreased by almost 20 percent during the same period, the report said.

It said that while the amount of potatoes produced had fallen due to disease, onion production had risen as a result of an increase in productivity.

The competition authority concluded there was no stockpiling in the warehouses and the possibility of anti-competitive pricing was low at a time of the year when no new potato and onion harvests could be made.

The public agency’s report said there were 3,000 commissioners and salesman engaged in potato and onion sales according to the 2017 figures of the Ministry of Agriculture. The agency said that its interviews with those salesman showed that they did not have the ability to act together and use their market power and therefore could not be accused of violating laws on competition. 

The competition authority said that price increases were related to decreases in agricultural land used for these products, diseases, low productivity, and natural events such as heavy rains.