Turkey’s cooking oil stocks sufficient, says agriculture minister

Rumours about depleting stocks on basic food stuffsf are not accurate, and Turkey has sufficient stocks of sunflower oil, Agriculture Minister Vahit Kirişçi said in a statement.

There have been “speculations” that low stocks had caused price hikes, Kirişçi said, due to “the crisis between Russia and Ukraine”. The minister said the rumours “do not reflect the truth”.

Turkey has increased its sunflower production by 17 percent in 2021, Kirişçi said. “Despite the increase in recent years, due to the increase in domestic demand and pandemic conditions, part of our need is fulfilled via imports.”

The ministry “has taken all sorts of measures so there are no issues with the vegetable oil supply”, and is following closely “latest developments between Russia and Ukraine”, he added.

As a precaution Turkey has stopped exporting sunflower oil and has diverted supplies back to the domestic market, according to the minister.

Over the weekend, a viral video showing an almost 50 percent price hike for sunflower oil led to panic among consumers. In the video, a container of oil appears to have a price tag of 130 liras ($9) at the aisle, but scans as 190 liras at the register.

A supermarket selling discounted sunflower oil was overrun with customers who fought to buy the limited supply of cheaper oil.

Turkey buys 65 percent of its imported sunflowers from Russia and 4.2 percent from Ukraine, to be processed domestically. The country also depends on Russia for a significant portion of its wheat supply, as well as the more critical energy and tourism industries. As such, Turkey stands among the most affected in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, analysts say.

Kirişçi was appointed Agriculture Minister on Friday, following Bekir Pakdemirli’s resignation.

According to the presidential decree announcing Kirişçi’s appointment, Pakdemirli had requested to be released from his duties.

“Bekir Pakdemirli was also removed from his post, asking for his ‘release’ in the Palace jargon. But Mr Bekir did not know he was going to ask this,” opposition deputy Gamze Taşçıer said in a tweet.

Earlier, a local chapter of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) had announced Pakdemirli’s visit as a visit by the current minister.

After Pakdemirli was removed from office, several ministry bureaucrats were detained by the police to face terrorism charges.

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