ECONOMY

INKA calls for 4-day boycott of produce

Fresh from the success of a one-day, nationwide strike held early this month against excessive price increases, the Institute of Consumer Protection (INKA) said yesterday it plans to bring home the message to fruit and vegetable sellers by staging a four-day boycott of fruit and vegetables next week. INKA said it decided to launch yet another strike because «some people haven’t learnt [from the previous strike].» The call for further consumer action came just a day after the Development Ministry reported massive price increases in fruit and vegetables in just a week. The ministry’s survey found that cabbage was more expensive by 50 percent and fresh beans by 25 percent. The price of pears and lemons went up 33 percent and 25 percent respectively in just seven days. The price difference was even more startling when compared with last year’s prices. In over a year, tomatoes have gone up by 70 percent, grapes by 95 percent and cabbage by 70 percent. Rising vegetable prices contributed to the surge in August inflation to 3.5 percent, official figures showed. While bad weather is partly to blame for vegetable and fruit inflation, retailers and grocers have also taken advantage of rounding to the euro to jack up prices. Concerned by the hike in fruit and vegetable prices, the Development Ministry yesterday decided to set up a committee to look into the issue. Calling the sharp jump in fruit and vegetable prices «spectacular and illogical,» INKA said the four-day boycott would kick off on September 16. It also threatened to extend the protest should prices fail to come down to more reasonable levels. With the cost of living soaring sky-high, a family of four needs a minimum income of 1,640 euros to live decently, it said. Referring to the September 3 boycott, INKA said it had been a major success, with some retailers reducing prices on some of their products even before the event. In the days following the protest, others had slashed prices on a number of essential items. Retailers had also decided on a price freeze on certain products. Consumers similarly had responded well to its call for action, INKA said, citing a survey conducted after September 3. It said 86 percent of the respondents had participated in the boycott while 90 percent supported similar action in the future.