Humans are not the only living beings in Turkey facing the reality of astronomical food prices. Pet food prices are also climbing due to hikes from producers and what animal lovers call a high rate of value-added tax (VAT).
A social media campaign has taken hold in the country, calling for the removal of the 18% VAT, as animal lovers urge authorities not to see pet food as a luxury item but a basic need and therefore exempt it from high tax reserved for luxury items. Pet owners have also called for inspections against soaring prices of pet food, while animal lovers say high prices make it challenging for them to feed stray animals.
Ahmet Kemal Şenpolat, head of the Animal Rights Federation (HAYTAP), says they have received a barrage of messages complaining about price hikes.
"Unfortunately, (pet ownership and feeding stray animals) is still viewed as the hobby of a marginal group in the country. On the contrary, Turkey is one of the countries with the highest population of stray animals," he told the Hürriyet newspaper on Friday.
Şenpolat added that they were working to encourage more people to adopt stray animals, but it comes with a cost in terms of food, and people need incentives to adopt. "We expect the authorities to take a step to that extent," he added.
Pet owners on social media claim the hikes reached 100% for some products, while a pet shop owner in Istanbul speaking to the newspaper said he was buying a cheaper cat food brand that now costs $18 (TL 250) for a 15-kilogram (33-pound) pack, compared to $13 10 days ago.
Izzet Saban, CEO of a pet food producer, said pet food VAT should be reduced to 8% to match the taxes on food for human consumption so that animals would have more access to their basic food needs. He added that low taxes – 1% – were already in place for birdseed.