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ECONOMY, FOOD & AGRICULTURE

Advantages of Turkey as a major food exporter

Turkey is a country of agricultural origin whose agricultural output shows significant increases every year. Historically, the agricultural sector has been Turkey’s largest employer and major contributor to the  country’s GDP, exports and industrial growth

Processed fruits and vegetables, products, pastry and milling industry, sugar confectionery, chocolate and cocoa products, pulses, tobacco and tobacco products are the promising sectors of Turkey’s agriculture and agro­industry.

The  geographical location of Turkey presents the  country a  very advantageous situation  in  international trade. Turkey’s proximity to Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, Central Asia  provides an easy access to large markets through the Black Sea to the North, the Aegean Sea to the  West and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. As far as Turkey’s foreign trade partners are concerned, it is seen that OECD countries take the biggest share. Among these, EU countries and  especially Germany, constitute  the  major destinations where Turkish export products are shipped.

Turkey is the number one producer and exporter of hazelnuts, dried apricots and figs in the world. Hazelnuts, rich in unsaturated fats, apricots rich in vitamin A and many minerals and raisins having blood­making property are supplied to health conscious consumers around the world. These products are mainly exported to EU, USA and other developed countries. For this reason, and with the respect to the fact of realising about 70% of the world  hazelnut production, these  products have  a strategic  importance for Turkey.

The frozen fruits and vegetables sector has a history of not more than 30 years in Turkey, and has been basically export ­oriented. Since the consumers of this sector are more keen on health and  are  aware  of nutritional aspects, frozen fruits and  vegetable  products have  been among  the food  items gaining popularity and also by the new trends in life styles demand will continue to grow in  the future. Frozen leeks, peppers, French fries, peas, strawberries, sour cherries and plums are  the  major products exported from Turkey to the world markets.

The production of canned fruit and vegetables is mostly parallel to national and international demand. Canned sour cherries, canned peaches, canned okra, canned peas, mixed vegetables and canned beans hold the largest share in canned fruit and vegetable exports. The fruit juice and concentrate industry has become one of the progressive agro­industry sectors in Turkey. This export oriented industry has flourished rapidly due to the  modern  production units, new investments and  strong  support  of abundant fresh fruit production.

Fruit  juices of various types (concentrated, mixed, sweetened etc.) are very popular primarily because of their nutrient content. The products of this sector are also good alternatives to carbonated beverages. The species processed into fruit juice and concentrates are apples, pears, apricots, peaches, oranges, tangerines, grapefruits, lemons, sour cherries, strawberries, pomegranates and grapes.

Turkey has an important place among other countries regarding the quantity and quality of its vegetable oil industry production. Although several kinds of vegetable oils are produced in Turkey, sunflower oil and corn oil and are the leading export items of the vegetable oil industry.

Being a very important ingredient enhancing flavour and texture for the meals Turkish olive oil is recommended to the household kitchens of the world. Olive oil, besides its delicious taste, is highly recommended by doctors for people suffering from high cholesterol. Production and export quantities are strictly dependent on the olive production as the olive production, which may change from year to year. Being a net exporter of olive oil, Turkey supplies a variety of olive oil products to a wide range of countries, including major producer countries that either consume or re­export Turkish olive oil. Together with the EU countries, the USA is the major importer of olive oil and Turkey is one of the most important supplier to these countries. In addition, Turkish olive oil is in demand in every part of the world. Today, Turkey exports olive oil to more than 90 countries and very few countries are left having not experienced the excellent taste and aroma of Turkish olive oil.

The major products of milling and pastry industry are wheat flour, pasta and biscuits. Turkey is among the major producers of wheat throughout the world. The yearly production of wheat is about 21 million tons. Turkey is among the major pasta exporters in the world.

Besides being  an  important sugar  producer and  exporter, in recent years, confectionery  products, particularly chewing gums, chocolate and chocolate products have become important and  are  gaining  popularity among  the Turkish export commodities. Also, Turkish specialities of this industry like halva and Turkish Delight are being introduced to international markets successfully.

Turkey has a major role among the important countries producing pulses and has the means of dominating the world trade in pulses. Red lentils and chickpeas that contain high levels of plant proteins, vitamins (especially A, B1 and B2) and  minerals (Calcium, Iron and Magnesium) are  among the most popular export items. Lentils and chickpeas are the major products in Turkish pulses production. Cereals are also of great importance in Turkish agriculture, where wheat is the  major grain  produced in Turkey.

Turkey is surrounded by sea on three sides, the Black Sea in the north, the Mediterranean Sea  in the south and  Aegean Sea  in the west. Utilizing this advantage, Turkey has been known as a country of fishery products since ancient times. Main export markets are the European Union, the USA and Japan. Major Turkish export products in this sector are fresh fish is the most important export item, followed by the fresh and canned crustaceans and molluscs. On the  other  hand, a  great number  of fish farms have  arisen due to the recognition of high  water resources and request of consumers demanding fishery products available to them throughout  the year.

Owing to Turkey’s climatic and ecological conditions, many spices are cultivated or gathered  from the natural vegetation. Oregano, laurel leaves, mahaleb and juniper berries are gathered from  nature  whereas varieties like  cumin, anise,  red  pepper, fenugreek, fennel and  coriander  are  cultivated. Turkey is the  major producer of laurel leaves, oregano and  cumin  in  the  world. USA, Hong Kong, Japan and EU countries are the major potential markets for spices originating from Turkey.

Several types of climate  leading  to  increased product variety and  the  near vicinity has made Turkish fruit and vegetables popular. Turkey produces 80 types of fresh fruit and vegetables out of 140 products grown in the world. Out of 80 types of fresh produce, 50 kinds are subject to exports. The  major export markets in  this industry are  the Russian Federation, EU  and  Middle  Eastern  countries. The most popular fresh fruit varieties are citrus fruits like oranges, lemon and grapefruits, apples, melons and grapes; whereas tomatoes, potatoes, onions, pepper, cucumber and gherkins are  the  leading  products in the  fresh vegetable  products.

Parallel to the trend towards consuming meat containing less cholesterol, the popularity and  domestic consumption of the poultry sector in Turkey has increased. Chicken and turkey products are the most commercialised kinds of products in this sector while they have also very rich diversity  of product groups like in whole or cut­in­piece, ready­to­eat, charcuterie forms both for domestic  use  or export purposes. Another  trend  in  this industry, as a  result of healthy life styles, is the  adaptation of traditional Turkish dishes made previously with red meat, like meat balls, Döner or various kinds of Kebabs.

The processing of milk and dairy products on a commercial basis and in modern plants dates back to 35 years. Turkey is the largest producer of milk and dairy products in the region. The rich  varieties of cheese  have  made Turkey one of the  preferred supplier of this product. While the  traditional products, like Van Otlu (Herby) cheese, Mihaliç Cheese, İzmir Tulum Cheese, Erzincan  Tulum Cheese, the traditional Turkish White Cheese, salinized Diyarbakır Örgü Cheese  and etc., are demanded internationally; Mozzarella Cheese and Kashkaval cheese have special importance in  Turkish foreign trade as well.

Turkey is one of the most fortunate countries endowed with substantial natural and mineral  water resources. Turkey produced more than 3,6 billion litres mineral water the exports destined to  European, Middle­ and Far East Countries. However, the production and export capacity of mineral  water of Turkey is much higher than these figures.

Since it is consumed  in large  amounts in Turkey, the  honey sector is quite  developed. In  Turkey, because of the rich flora favouring climatic conditions in many different regions throughout  the country, various types of honey are produced. Pine and Flower honey are the most well known types in Turkey.

Turkey is the  main  producer of oriental type tobacco in the  world. Among the main industrial crops produced  in Turkey, tobacco is a  traditional agricultural export item of Turkey. Turkey is the major producer and the exporter of this product in the world. The new trend in the sector is the  production and export  of tobacco products.

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