Amid the sharp devaluation of Turkish currency lira, the price of Turkey's most popular street snack simit has climbed by 40 percent recently, leading to shrinking sale and profit for the vendors.
ISTANBUL, Dec. 6 (Xinhua) -- Miniature simit kiosks with red awnings can be seen in almost every square in Istanbul, offering people a popular and affordable on-the-go snack.
Dating back to the Ottoman Empire's cuisines, simit, widely known as Turkish bagel, is a circular bread covered with sesame or sunflower seeds and usually consumed with a cup of Turkish tea.
Besides its popularity, it used to be hugely affordable street food in Istanbul, costing about 2.5 Turkish liras (0.18 U.S. dollars) each.
However, the price of a bagel of 100 gram increased by 40 percent to 3.5 liras at the beginning of this week, after raw material costs increased by 300 percent in a year.
Emin Korkmaz, a street vendor, has been selling simit in Istanbul's Istiklal Avenue in the Beyoglu district since 1977.
"We are against the hike," he grumbled about the latest price hike while he was placing around 100 hot bagels in his kiosk.
"I usually sell over 300 bagels a day... There is no profit left for me," he spoke of his income, noting that his sales would diminish, but yet Turkish people would continue to buy simit despite the increasing price as it is still the cheapest meal right now for many Istanbulites.
"If you have a cup of soup at a restaurant, it costs you 15 liras," Korkmaz noted.
Turkish currency lira has lost more than 40 percent of its value this year against the U.S. dollar, while the annual inflation hit 21.31 percent in November. One dollar was traded at 13.78 liras on Friday.
Kasim Yagci, a simit baker, takes the latest flour, margarine, and sesame prices of wholesalers through an instant messaging service on his mobile, accusing them of "acting like a stock market."
The price of 18 kg of margarine went up to 630 liras from 300 liras, while 1 kg of sesame increased to 35 liras from 16 liras in two months, Yagci noted.
"I haven't seen such exorbitant price increases since I started this business in 1994," he told Xinhua, in front of a large wood oven at his bagel production facility in the Beyoglu district.
Together with his 10 employees, Yagci has been producing 1,500 to 2,000 bagels per day.
"I don't seek any profit or anything else. I strive to be able to stand by (against the rising prices and high living costs)," he lamented, speaking of the latest price hikes of the raw materials for making simit.
"We are going through very difficult times," Abdulbaki Kir, a coworker of Yagci, told Xinhua.
"The expenses are so huge. We pay the salaries of the workers, handle the rent, finance the insurance expenses, pay other expenses such as wood and electricity," he continued.
Baking simit in a wood oven is a bit tough and expensive, according to Kir.
"We start very early in the morning. If there is any neglect, the products are spoiled immediately," he said while noting that a ton of wood costs 1,400 liras.
If the price hikes of flour, margarine and sesame continue at this pace, one simit would soon cost 5 liras, according to Saban Ozturk, head of the Istanbul Chamber of Tradesmen and Craftsmen.
These hikes might force some small enterprises "to close their businesses in the upcoming three to five months," Ozturk told local media.