German parliament debates the cost of a doner kebab after vendors put prices up

First introduced to Germany by Turkish immigrants in the 1970s, the doner kebab has become a firm favourite for Germans of all ages.

Earlier this week, the savoury meal became the subject of a debate in the Bundestag due to higher prices, which have more than doubled since 2019, creating concerns that this popular takeaway may soon become unaffordable for many.

Hanna Steinmüller, a Green Party MP from Berlin, highlighted the problem during a debate about housing, stating young people in her constituency had urged her to help combat rising kebab costs.

“I know that for a lot of people here, this is not at all an everyday topic. But I promised them that we would at least make this [issue] visible here too,’ Ms Steinmüller told the Bundestag on Tuesday.

She said young frisbee players had complained to her that they are currently paying around €6 for a doner kebab when two years ago it was typically priced between €3 and €3.50.

There are at least 16,000 kebab eateries and kiosks across Germany, with around a tenth of those in the capital Berlin, where prices have risen most steeply.

A doner kebab comprises of thin strips of meat, usually lamb, but it can also be chicken or beef, cooked on a vertical rotisserie, which is served in bread – usually in a pide, or a sandwich roll or in a wrap, along with salad and sauces.

An increase in the cost of the raw ingredients – meat prices are up by 18%, bread by 24% and salad items such as tomatoes by as much as 65%  – along with higher energy prices has forced vendors to pass these costs on to their customers.

The average German doner kebab takeaway currently costs around €6-7. Yet with increases to the national minimum wage – up from €9.50 to €12.41 an hour in the past three years – many vendors claim they are barely breaking even and need to hike up their prices still further.

The spiralling costs prompted Germany’s largest kebab meat producer to recently suggest that the natural cost of a doner should be €10 (£8.50), which has been met with raised eyebrows.

For Germans, the cost of a doner kebab has come to symbolise their broader concerns over the cost of living crisis in Germany.

Such is the strength of feeling on the issue that the German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, was told off on a live television programme in 2022 by a man who said he was paying €8 for a doner following the outbreak of the Ukrainian war. The man told the Chancellor to, “Talk to Putin; I want to pay 4 euros for a doner kebab.”