Uproar in Germany due to the rise in the price of doner kebab

Uproar in Germany due to the rise in the price of doner kebab

A much-loved fast food snack in Germany, the doner kebab, is becoming more expensive due to the rise in the cost of energy and also its culinary ingredients, and in some places it has exceeded the price of seven euros. Not so many years ago, this specialty could be found in Berlin even for 3.5 euros, and more recently, always before the Russian invasion of Ukraine that has disrupted the world economy, the price barely reached 5 euros.

Although of Turkish roots, this world-famous variant of the döner kebab was created in Germany, which explains how much German consumers feel it as their own and the price increase hurts their souls. Now it is not uncommon to pay at least six euros.

The origin

In Turkey it was served on a plate; a Turkish immigrant created this version in Berlin in 1972

According to the most widespread version, held by the Association of Turkish Kebab Producers in Europe (Atdid, for its German acronym), the döner kebab has just turned fifty and was born in Berlin. In 1972, a Turkish immigrant, Kadir Nurman, seeing that many Germans were eating in a hurry on the street, took meat cooked on the grill (that means kebab) on a large rotating skewer (the döner), and cut into thin slices, he put it in pita bread as a sandwich.

Nurman sold it at a fast food stand next to the Zoologischer Garten station. Some time later, he added vegetables and white sauce, and thus the new format came to fruition, since in Turkey the meat made in this way on the grill was eaten on a plate and in feasts of a certain pomp. The cook Nurman died in 2013. Other sources attribute the invention to another Turkish immigrant, Nevzat Salim, who claims, showing photos that he was selling döner kebabs in the Bavarian town of Reutlinger as early as 1969.

The business

In Germany there are 16,000 kebab stalls, of which more than a thousand are found on the streets of Berlin

The first döner respected the Turkish custom of using lamb meat, but for a long time it has also been common to use veal or beef, and even poultry such as turkey or chicken. The inclusion of slices of tomato, onion and cucumber, and strips of lettuce, cabbage or red cabbage, together with yogurt sauce or spicy white sauce make it a fast food that “has everything” to satisfy hunger in the middle of the street .

The popularity of the döner kebab is overwhelming in Germany: 50,000 tons of kebab are consumed every day, and there are 16,000 stalls, of which more than a thousand are in Berlin. For many Germans, this street delicacy is the favorite when it comes to killing the bug, in open competition with the famous currywurst (curry sausage) –another Berlin invention– and with French fries with mayonnaise or ketchup.

Collateral damage

The Russian invasion of Ukraine touches the price of cereal for bread and meat for the grill

The price of the juicy morsel has been rising not only due to the higher cost of electricity and gas but also due to the increase in the cost of raw materials, especially the cereal for bread and sunflower oil, but also the meat itself, due to the rising inflation derived from the war crisis. According to the consumer advisory center (Verbraucherzentrale), there have been sharp jumps in food prices from September 2021 to September 2022. Bread and cereal products increased by an average of 18.5%, and meat and other meat derivatives by 19.5%.

A homemade doner kebab in a restaurant in Frankfurt, Germany

A homemade doner kebab in a restaurant in Frankfurt, Germany


The transport of raw materials and the increase in the minimum wage also influence, which on October 1 went from 10.45 euros gross per hour to 12 euros, which has an impact on the cost of personnel for small kebab entrepreneurs. “Actually, a doner kebab should cost 7.30 euros,” Gürsel Ülber, president of the Atdid producers’ association, told the German press agency Dpa.

A special stir has been caused by the decision of a position in Frankfurt, the Tonbul Grill Kebab Haus, to raise the price to ten euros. Its owner, Ugor Yumusakbas, 40, justified this increase on Facebook due to the more expensive general conditions in the meat and raw materials market. Result: the doner kebab rises for the consumer and the debate on the cost of fast food continues.

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Eduardo Magallon


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