The aim of the project was to illustrate the dramatic effect of food price inflation in Turkey in an intuitive and engaging way, drawing on official data from the years 2009, 2014 and 2019.
As the Turkish economy went into recession late last year, skyrocketing food prices have been a huge story in the country, affecting every household. Inflation jumped to 20% last year while food price increases accelerated to 31 percent in January 2019 from 25.1 percent in December 2018.
The editorial idea was to illustrate what is essentially a data story based on dry official statistics in a way that links the figures directly to people’s everyday lives, their daily meals, their kitchens and their larders.
We selected five traditional dishes cooked by everyone, broke them down into their ingredients and presented the cost of each as well as the overall dish in form of a recipe along with engaging illustrations. We included data from three years to allow a broader perspective of food price inflation over time.
What makes this project innovative?
The project is innovative in that it makes economic concepts and statistics accessible in a new and interactive way, drawing the user into experimenting with the data through a game style experience. Linking inflation statistics with a familiar everyday concept like a recipe book breaks down a barrier that exists for consumer uncomfortable with pure figures, tables and charts. The US experience is built around giving the user a variety of choices to click and swipe, depending on the platform. Readers can choose between five familiar recipes, guaranteeing an instant engagement as food and cooking are such elementary aspects of everyday life while also stimulating active debate. The second choice is to explore the prices of each dish as a total expenditure for a four person meal, as well as the individual prices of each ingredient, listed in recipe style format under an engaging and appetising picture. An inflation index in percentage indicating the rise between the different data points is also shown.
What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?
The Impact has been brilliant, both in terms of performance data as well as qualitative feedback. (Data derived from internal data monitoring tools as well as social media site analytics tools) Website traffic (BBC Turkce) Visits: 16.500 clicks (3x overperforming) 50% of the website audience found the story through social media. Interestingly, 50% of the social referrals found the story through ‘messaging and emails’ rather than Facebook or Twitter, indicating the increasing prominence of chat apps such as Whatsapp. Social performance Twitter: https://twitter.com/bbcturkce/status/1113554874543767563 Total engagement of 4 separate Tweets: 9.5k (6.0x overperforming on avg.) Facebook https://www.facebook.com/bbcturkceservisi/photos/a.10150910936388822/10156600873863822/?type=3&theater Total engagement: 18k (5.8x overperforming) (This was a photo post with URL added on at the end of post message) Instagram story Total impressions: 14.590, Link clicks: 343 Qualitative feedback Several local media outlets used the interactive and turned it into still images to use ion their own the stories. This did travel well for them, although we don’t have exact figures. Turkey’s most visited news site Sozcu was among these outlets and gave BBC Turkce credit in an interesting way: (see quote below) “Unfortunately, neither us, nor any other media organization in Turkey covered this story. The BBC explores how food inflation in Turkey is impacting the kitchen. How much did the dishes cooked at home cost 10 years ago, and how much now? Here's the answer to the question …” SEE: https://www.sozcu.com.tr/2019/ekonomi/turkiyede-evde-yemek-yapmak-10-yilda-ne-kadar-pahalandi-4280296/ https://www.haberler.com/turkiye-de-4-kisilik-bir-yemegin-maliyeti-10-11913795-haberi/
Source and methodology
Selection of recipes: We prioritized a variety of products and tried to pick the most common vegetables and meat varieties used in traditional recipes as much as possible. In the end we had around 20 different types of ingredients. In order to avoid controversy over the recipes, the ingredients and the amounts suggested, (food can easily turn into a very heated topic in Turkey), we used the Culture Ministry’s portal which presents a range of recipes examples. We also paid attention to picking ingredients included in the official inflation basket. Prices: For the price indices, we used data from the Turkish Statistical Institute. We picked three data points: February 2009, February 2014 and February 2019. We used the datasets of the TSI for inflation basket and took the prices from there. The prices there are given per kilogram, so we calculated the price for the given amounts in each recipe from that basis. However, we left out common ingredients that are used in pretty much every meal and can be found in an average kitchen such as butter, salt, water, black pepper, other spices.
We used different tools such as HTML/CSS/JS - vanilla JS, Excel to collect the data, Photoshop to create the assets or Sketch and Marvel for prototyping. We also test all our products to make them accessible. A good appetite was required for this project!
Josh Rayman, Developer, Near East Digital Alice Grenie, UX Designer, Near East Digital Irem Koker, Journalist/Data journalist, BBC Turkish Enis Senerdem, Senior Journalist, BBC Turkish Leoni Robertson, Data Journalist, BBC Near East Digital