A chef and his team at a bakery in Istanbul began to cook “Ramadan pitas” in the early morning on the first day of the holy month of Ramadan. They planned to prepare about 4,000 pitas until the iftar time at sunset to meet the demand.
This delicious circular flatbread, a five-century-old Ramadan tradition, is a flavor unique to Turkish cuisine, produced only during Muslim’s holy month, with a special recipe. It is so popular that people even are willing to postpone their iftar meals, waiting in line at local bakeries to buy freshly baked Ramadan pitas, widely accepted as an indispensable item of iftar tables.
However, the persistently high inflation has spoiled the taste of Ramadan pitas this year in Türkiye. In a recent statement, the Turkish Bakers Federation announced that the price of 300 grams of plain pita increased to 10 Turkish liras (about 0.52 U.S. dollars) during Ramadan.
Halil Ibrahim Balci, president of the federation, said that the new price indicates an increase of approximately 60-62 percent compared to the previous year.
Safak Turkoglu, owner of Koprulu Kardesler Bakery Products in the Bayrampasa district, told Xinhua that elevated inflation severely eroded the purchasing power of people, forcing them to do calculations before setting their Iftar tables. “We haven’t seen anything like this in 40 years,” Turkoglu said, referring to the rising prices of all items.
After hitting a 24-year high of 85.51 percent in October 2022, annual inflation in Türkiye stood at 55.18 percent in February. The actual cost of living experienced by locals is even higher as the prices of many products at least doubled in the past year.
Tahsin Aydin, a frequent customer of Kardesler Bakery, paid 90 liras for the pitas he bought. “Will people have a hard time paying for the pitas during Ramadan? Yes, we are all struggling. I bought the pita today, but I won’t be able to purchase it every day,” he said.
According to the latest survey released by the Confederation of Turkish Trade Unions, known as Turk-Is, the hunger limit exceeded 9,591 liras, and the poverty line hit 31,241 liras in March. The Turk-Is report also showed that food prices rose by 94.62 percent annually in March.
Meanwhile, local authorities are providing free sahur and iftar meals to support those in need during Ramadan.
In Istanbul, the metropolitan municipality announced that it would sell subsidized pitas for 5 liras during Ramadan. ■