People’s bread

Fourty kuruş (20 euro cents) for a loaf of bread: that’s not much. Especially when it’s healthy bread, like that produced at the factories of Halk Ekmek – People’s Bread. This long-standing government initiative to provide healthy bread for poorer people is becoming more and more popular. Whenever I pass a selling point in the morning I see long lines, and I hardly ever saw that a year ago. People stand in line with a bag in their hand, because you save ten kurus if you provide your own wrapping. Considering both the amount of bread Turks eat and the fact that a ‘commercial loaf’ costs 85 kuruş nowadays, halk ekmek saves people quite a bit of money. And people are getting poorer: the national statistics bureau released figures showing unemployment on the rise. In the last three months, unemployment reached 10.9 percent, against 9.7 percent in the same period last year. Some commercial bakers are now protesting against halk ekmek, especially in places where the very basic halk ekmek selling points are fancied up a bit. How can they ever compete with a national bakery that can keep its prices low by getting its flour in such amazingly large amounts that the discounts are just as large? One baker in my neighbourhood told me some time ago that he refuses to raise the price of his bread and tries to save some money by making every loaf a little lighter. Today, my favourite baker said he is not so much bothered by halk ekmek. He sells (the best, really the best) pies too, and he has his own niche market, he said: ‘My customers are just a bit richer and they don’t go to line up at halk ekmek’. But now that there are less and less ‘just a bit richer people’, this must somehow effect your business?, I replied, being in a persistent mood. He apparently thought I was afraid my own very tasty bread supply was in danger, because he winked and said: ‘Don’t worry, we’ll survive.’

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