Accepted: when compared with some years ago daily life has turned out more expensive than we had been previously accustomed to along our splendid, shared southern Aegean shores. On the one hand, local families compare supermarket prices in more detail than they used to; on the other hand, bigger investments with regards to (re-)furnishing ones’ home might be shelved (pun intended) for the time being. But this trying-to-make-ends meet reality check is nothing Türkiye specific – to the contrary, all around the world has the issue of inflation become a constant breadwinner’s headache.
To put matters into perspective: a study amongst restaurant owners specializing in Türkiye’s all-time favourite take away meat dish, Döner, in Germany’s capital city of Berlin came to a shocking conclusion: in the past the accepted price tag hovered around 3.50 Euros. Ever since the pandemic struck it increased albeit gradually to just under 5.00 Euros; instances of entrepreneurs charging six Euros are not unheard of already. Yet this development is not about greed and profit – please read on why all this is happening.
Enter Gürsel Ülber, Chairman of the Board, Society of Turkish Döner Producers in Europe ATDID who mentioned in a recent interview that due to the extraordinary rise in red meat prices as well as electricity and other utility costs and in order to break even a price of 7.30 Euros per dish would be necessary. He stated to TRT German that in many regions red meat prices have increased by 50 per cent in a very short period-of-time (TRT German/Deutsch, 16. April 2022).
This story from Germany underlines three things. First, whereas in decades gone by an inflation target of a maximum four per cent was regarded as minimum requirement for EU candidate countries to join the European Union, some economists went one step further and declared that it is technically speaking possible and manageable to cut this even further to two per cent annually; in many nations, for quite a fair number of years it worked out that way, too. Then one financial crisis after the other hit Europe, the world; and all those promising assumptions were replaced by hastily designed bail-out strategies instead.
Second, our economies have become more and more dependent on sourcing cheap energy as well as cheap raw materials from a very limited number of countries. Should supply chains no longer work the way they did, should a pandemic strike, should a war break out we are left to our own devices so to speak. Supplies become scarce; prices go up.
Last not least, and as modern Türkiye is a full-fledged global trading partner of choice it is however not immune with a view to fighting off each and every financial or other crisis unfolding elsewhere. No nation can attempt to produce everything by and for themselves, all functioning market economies are intertwined to a very large extent.
These three observations underline the fact that regardless of how hard Türkiye’s business community as well as government tries there comes a time when costs rise to unexpected levels. The only option to keep the economy going and to keep the population in employment is to transfer some of these increasing costs onto the consumer, aka you and me.
But as we hinted at in the paragraphs above: none of this is unique to Türkiye, none of this is home-made.
Türkiye, Kusadasi continue to set trends: affordable 5-star quality
Granted: a square meal in a fine eatery in town can no longer be had for 10 Turkish Liras– actually, there were days when the local version of a Döner set you back exactly 2.50 Turkish Liras, circa 2005, then the equivalent of one British Pound Sterling. Acquiring a pint of a delicious and refreshing drink since long demands handing over at least three ten Turkish Lira banknotes. The bill for a good night’s sleep in a neighbourhood hotel no longer can be settled with a fifty Turkish Liras banknote as was standard back in 2009.
But there is no need for doom and gloom. As living expenses skyrocketed elsewhere here in Türkiye it seems that a middle ground approach was successfully found and implemented.
A perfect hot meal in an above average restaurant – 60 to 100 TL. A drink or two, per volume, 30 to 35 TL. The same good night’s sleep according to personal taste and demands from 250 TL onwards although I would suggest not to go below the 400 TL benchmark for three-star comforts.
Yet when we factor in the current exchange rate none of these examples break the bank – not at all. Try to enjoy the same quality with a similar pricing structure in other European holiday and home away from home hotspots? Mission Impossible 2.0.!
A Döner for six Euros – let us imagine the costs for a three-course dinner in Germany. A pint for seven Pound Sterling? Soon coming to a Public House in Britain near you. A middle-class hotel for at least 80 Euros on one of Spain’s famous coasts? Already with us. Then add intercity transportation costs. Buying everyday essentials. Setting up an internet line at home or for mobile phone usage et cetera.
By comparison and without disrespecting any other fine European destination one thing is crystal clear: notwithstanding the fact that inflation has reached Türkiye and is here to stay for some more time and not without acknowledging the fact that this year’s tourism season might become a bit of a bumper ride due to the unfolding human catastrophe in Ukraine – Türkiye offers simply the best top quality – price ratio anywhere in Europe and probably even further afield.
Talking about further afield – or at least a little further afield – let me conclude by mentioning that over the next few months I shall be writing about three fascinating day trips, all departing and returning to our Kusadasi. Your friendly columnist is soon headed to Samos, Seferihisar and Selcuk – the making of the 3S mini-series.
Until then have a great start of the summer season, enjoy.