The country’s fresh fruit and vegetable exports have increased by 25 percent, growth that allows it to compete with 85 nations in foreign markets.

Tackling the pandemic, Turkey did not down tools in the agricultural sector, all while taking necessary precautions to save its workforce from the coronavirus. 

While the agricultural output of most countries faced severe declines, Turkey’s fresh fruit and vegetable exports increased more than 25 percent in the first quarter of 2020 despite the country facing a difficult public health crisis. According to Turkey’s Mediterranean Exporters' Association, exports of fresh fruit and vegetables have increased to $640 million. 

The association said Turkey fetched $179 million from its exports in the first quarter of 2020, with Russia being the main importer buying fruits and vegetables for $200 million, followed by Romania and Ukraine. The former  spent $59.3 million on fruit and vegetable imports from Turkey, while the latter spent $55.4 million.

Hakki Bahar, the chairman of the Western Mediterranean Exporters Association, said that in 2019, 858,000 tons of products were exported between January 1 and the middle of March while this year, the number has crossed 956,000 tons in the same period. 

On the other hand, in terms of the value of products, last year the exportation value was $455 million in worth and it had hit more than $580 million between the same dates.

“There is an 11.3 percent increase as kilogram and a 27.6 percent in terms of the foreign currency amount entering the country,” he said.

Russia, Romania, Germany, Bulgaria, Poland, Saudi Arabia and Georgia have been leading customers of Turkish fruits and vegetables.

The most significant jump in Turkey’s exports has been observed in the exportation of tomatoes and peppers to the European market which is the country’s largest trading partner.
“There is an increase both in terms of volume and revenues. Europe is currently demanding products from Turkey, which is deemed by the EU as a safe source of supply,” Bahar said

Turkish production in Asian markets

In February, Russia stated that it was considering replacing China with Turkey for the additional importation of fruit, vegetable and seafood products.

Talking to the local news agency, the head of Russia's Food Products Manufacturers and Suppliers Association, Dmitry Vostrikov said: "Vegetables, fruits and seafood make up the basis of Chinese food exports to Russia. At the moment, the falling volumes (of food products) can easily be replaced by supplies from other countries, such as Morocco and Turkey."

It seems Russia will be followed by other countries and regions as Thailand’s Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives has given approval to Turkish producers for exportation of fruits and vegetables.

Thailand is the country which has a great potential with the import value of $210 million of apples per year while Turkey’s apple exports were worth  $90 million in 2019. Turkey ranks third in the world for apple production with 3 million tons annually.

Currently, one of the main importers of Turkey’s apples is India, along with customers in various regions and countries across the Middle East, Europe and Russia. 

As China was amongst the very first countries to approve imports from Turkey, experts believe that China’s approval of cherry imports from Turkey has played an active role for further fruit exports to the Asian market.

Aegean Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Exporters Chairman, Hayrettin Ucak said that Turkish cherries are currently exported to China and South Korea and apples are preferred in Thailand because of their high unit price in Bangkok. Additionally, the durability of apples makes it more desirable for overseas exports via marine transportation.

Ucak said that the East Asian markets have a great potential for Turkish fruits while stressing that as Turkish exporters, they have additional projects in East and Southeast Asia, especially trade with China, South Korea, Malaysia and Singapore.

Source: TRT World