The harvest of tomatoes continues in Igdir, a city located in southeastern Turkey and known for its agricultural production. Tomatoes from Igdir has a unique taste and texture and are sold at 0.5 USD per kg. There are about 700 hectares of tomato production in Igdir and annual production is around 26,000 tons.
Tomato harvest has also started in Silifke, Mersin, a city located in southern Turkey. Annual tomato production in Mersin is around 300,000 tons in a production area of 2,400 hectares and 50 % of the production is being exported. The growers have also started growing other products such as zucchini, pepper and strawberry in the area.
Despite tomato harvest season starting in various regions in Turkey, tomato prices still continue to be very high at the local market. The sale price at the grower in Turkey on average is around 0.60 USD per kg whereas the sale price at retail is around 1.75 USD per kg. The retailers point out that high prices are not specific to tomatoes and there is a price increase in all fresh fruits and vegetables in the market.
However growers are also extremely frustrated with the high prices at retail and cannot figure out why and how the prices increase so much after the product leaves their farm. Growers in Isparta argue that their sale price is around 0.50 USD per kg and the price at retail goes up to 1.75 USD per kg. The growers are asking for the state to intervene and correct this situation which is hurting both the growers and consumers.
Last year tomato was sold at 0.18 USD per kg at the grower and this year the price at the grower nearly doubled due to increased production costs tied to imported cost items which became more expensive due to rapidly declining value of Turkish currency. The growers expect the prices to increase even further next year with labor costs potentially increasing by 50 % due to increasing wages in Turkey.
The growers point out the high profit margins by the wholesalers and other middlemen as the main reason behind the major gap between grower and retail prices and underline that the state needs to exert some control over wholesalers in order to ensure the well-being of consumers and growers. Growers also add that wholesalers earn more from the growers’ products than growers themselves and consider this extremely unfair.
Another important point emphasized by growers is that some of the increases in imported production costs items are excessive and well-above the rate of decline in Turkish currency. They suspect that fertilizer companies are trying to up their prices using the decline in Turkish currency as an excuse but Turkish currency declined by 50 % at most in the last year whereas fertilizer prices tripled so there is an disproportionate decrease in fertilizer prices.
Tomatoes grown in Isparta are also an important export commodity where more than 50 % of tomatoes are sold to Israel, Ukraine, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and other Arab countries.
Antalya Trade Market Chairman Ali Candir also warned consumers about tomato prices and predicted that the prices will go above the 1.75 USD per kg level in upcoming weeks of October. Ali Candir pointed out shortage of supply due to tuta absoluta disease and the tomatoes being greenhouse tomatoes as the additional reasons to the increasing production costs.