Photo: Aksun Company, Turkey
Turkey’s 2020/21 citrus crop is projected to fall from the levels of the previous year due to high temperatures in May 2020 during the blooming season, according to USDA data. While prices received by producers have not increased significantly, production costs such as fuel, fertilisers, labour have risen rapidly due to the weak currency and high inflation. Citrus exports in 2020/21 are expected to be down due to logistical problems with neighbouring countries and Saudi Arabian sanctions on Turkish products. Tangerines account for 34% of total citrus exports, followed by oranges (25%), lemons (24%) and grapefruit (17%). In 2019/20, the Russian market received 28% of Turkey’s citrus exports due to geographic proximity, strong logistical infrastructure, and high demand. Turkish citrus exports to the EU were up in 2019/20, but there was a shortage of immigrant labourers from North Africa as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The heavy snow that fell in April in China’s major peach growing provinces has triggered a 500,000 ton drop in overall stonefruit production to 14.5 million tons, according to USDA. Accordingly, exports are down by around 33%, partly due to the ongoing Russian ban on Chinese fruit imports.
With EU stonefruit production also expected to fall, Turkey is poised to take advantage. Output in Turkey is forecast to rise 40,000 tons to 870,000 tons, marking the sixth straight year of growth, with exports soaring (especially to Russia), which is spurring further investment.
Turkey’s peach and nectarine crop is forecast to grow 5% to 870,000 tons in the 2020/21 campaign, according to Turkish Statistics Institute (TurkSTAT). Exports are increasing due to the large production volumes and the strong demand from the Russian and EU markets. Turkey continues to be among the top ten exporters in the world for peaches and nectarines. Farmers in major growing areas are generally satisfied with the yields and quality of their crop thanks to favourable weather conditions during the blooming and harvest period. Most of the peach varieties planted in Turkey are Early Amber, Spring Crest, May Crest, Red Haven and Early Red.
Planting area for peach production in Turkey continues to increase due to new investments for the export market and juice industry in the last decade. The total estimated number of all peach and nectarine trees was about 21 million in 2019. The total number of bearing trees increased from 14 million in 2009 to 17.4 million in 2019.
Use of peaches/nectarines for processing is forecast at 130,000 tons in 2020/21, similar to 2019/20. Approximately 15% of all peach production is used for juice. Turkish consumers prefer fruit juices of peach, cherry and apricot in “nectar” form. Nectars are very popular, but there is also a growing trend for 100% fruit juices. Peaches are also used to make canned products, marmalades, and are sold as frozen fruit.
Turkey is one of the largest exporters of stone fruit in the world, exporting over 250,000 tons annually, with the majority going to EU countries and Russia. Turkish exporters are also looking for opportunities for stone fruits such as cherries in the Far East, particularly China in recent years. Turkey exported 884 tons of fresh stone fruit to China in 2019.
Turkey expects an 8.5% rise in its cherry production in 2020/21 compared to the previous year, with the total volume estimated at 918,000 tons, according to the Turkish Statistics Institute (TurkSTAT). Of this total, 732,000 tons are sweet cherries and 186,000 tons are sour cherries. Turkey has recently established modern high-density orchards, using new cultivars, rootstocks, training systems, and growing techniques. Total cherry planting area is expected to remain at about 106,000 hectares, of which about 84,000 ha is for sweet cherries, similar to last year. The total estimated number of all cherry trees was about 34.3 million in 2019. The total number of bearing trees for sweet cherries increased from 14.7 million to 21.1 million in ten years. However, sour cherry production area has decreased during the same period from seven million in 2010 to six million in 2019. The increase in production of better-quality cherries to meet the specifications of export markets also helps to increase the quality of cherries for the domestic market.
There are more than one hundred varieties of sweet cherries produced in Turkey. The 0900 Ziraat variety, also known as a Turkish Napoleon, was developed in Turkey and is the most popular variety in the country because its higher quality can serve export markets. However, producers have started to try new cherry varieties such as Sweet Heart, Celeste, Early Lory, Kordia, Regina, Sam, and Sunburst for higher quality products, later harvest (to capture higher prices later in the season) and higher yields.
Turkey aims to improve its exports of fresh sweet cherries to China
The most prestigious companies of the Turkish food and beverage industry will meet buyers from 54 African countries at the CNR Expo Istanbul Expo Centre between December 2-5, 2020. The companies operating in numerous industries, particularly the food and beverage industry, will come together with hundreds of buyer delegations and thousands of professional buyers from the organisations in the public and private sectors in Africa at Export Gateway to Africa, organised by CNR Holdings.
The Turkish food and beverage industry will showcase products to establish new business connections with the African continent or enhance trade capacities at Export Gateway to Africa. The exhibition will host all the African countries with the newest and biggest trade potential in the world and double the total export number of US$24 billion.
Export Gateway to Africa will also welcome locomotive industries of export such as building and building materials, industrial products, agriculture, agricultural machinery, ceramics, furniture, home textile, health, oral and dental health products as well as the food and beverage industries.
With the Turkish cherry season drawing to a close, the country has successfully shipped its first cherries to South Korea. Exporter Ana Fruit reported the successful arrival of its first commercial batch of cherries to South Korea on the shelves of Lotte Mart and other major retailers.
Speaking to Fruitnet, Ana Fruit’s marketing and sales manager, Yahya Erdogan, said, “We processed our first commercial shipment on 25 July after a sample shipment on 18 July. The fruit is now selling on retail shelves in Korea and the arrival of Turkish cherries has attracted coverage from local media. The key challenge we faced supplying Korea this year was delays with bringing Korean inspectors over to Turkey due to Covid-19. We’ve only been able to start shipping in the last weeks of the season due to uncertainty over when the inspectors could get here. We airfreight our cherries directly to Seoul but we also faced some capacity constraints following the decrease in services because of the pandemic.”
Turkish cherries will be competing alongside US cherries. However, with US shipments dropping in 2019, South Korea’s cherry imports fell 22% in 2019/20, totalling 14,873 tons, according to ITC Trademap data. The main variety of Turkish cherry that is exported is the Ziraat 0900, also known as Turkish Napoleon, which meets the global demand for good firmness and texture.
Turkey is the world’s third largest cherry exporter after Chile and the US. In the 2019/20 campaign, the country shipped 80,543 tons worth US$182 million. Currently, most of the country’s cherries are exported to Russia, Europe and Iraq. Asia received around 2,500 tons in 2019/20, with China, Hong Kong and Singapore the major markets.
Turkey is set to become a key player in Asian fruit and vegetable markets. The country is currently in advanced negotiations to secure access for its wide range of fresh produce to key markets such as China, Japan, Thailand and the Philippines, among others. Turkey’s Minister of Trade, Ruhsar Pekcan announced the acceleration in the country’s plan to diversify its fresh fruit and vegetable exports. Turkey currently is authorised to ship cherries to China and South Korea. Pekcan said that she soon expects China to authorise shipments of Turkish citrus, apples, grapes and pomegranate. Turkey is the world’s third largest apple producer (3 million tons per year) and Turkish apples have recently entered Thailand, with the Philippines set to follow suit. India, the Middle East and Russia are currently the main destinations for Turkey’s fresh produce exports.
Despite the ongoing pandemic, Turkey’s exports of agricultural products were up in March compared with the previous year. The main driver is the global increase in food demand. According to data published by the Turkish Exporters’ Assembly (TİM), while Turkey’s overall exports declined 17.8% y-o-y to $13.42 billion in March, agricultural exports climbed 4.5% growth to US $2.38 billion, reports dailysabah.com.
The country’s fruit and vegetable products rocketed 26.9% to $162.4 million. Hazelnut exports recorded the largest growth, more than doubling from last March’s levels to reach $208.8 million. Meanwhile, dried legume and cereal exports grew by 7.9%, and tobacco and dried fruit exports rose by 7.1% and 4.5%, respectively.
Russia is the main market for Turkey’s fresh fruits and vegetables, while its hazelnuts are mainly exported to Italy, home to chocolate brands like Nutella and Kinder.
The Turkish government has subjected lemons to export control due to the booming domestic demand due to the coronavirus pandemic. The restriction will continue until the end of August. In Turkey, lemons are mainly used for the production of cologne, which is used as an alcohol-based disinfectant in many aspects of life. They are also being consumed to boost immunity, thanks to their high content of Vitamin C. The booming demand has led to a sharp spike in lemon prices since the start of the outbreak.
Alanar is one of the most quality-focussed growers, packager & exporters of premium cherries from Turkey. Last season, the firm exported about 4,700 tons of cherries and 2,000 tons of figs, making Tekfen Agri the number-one exporter of fresh figs from Turkey. “Our project is to export 7,500 tons of fresh cherries in 2021, with our new state-of-the-art packing facility which will be one of the largest in Europe,” said Yigit Gokyigit, marketing manager. Alanar is growing and now exports cherries, figs, apricots, plums, pomegranates and chestnuts. Its main cherry varieties are Napoleon and Ziraat, as well as Regina and Cordia.
Meanwhile, China is generating huge expectations since the new protocol made exporting cherry from Turkey to China possible last July. “We have experienced very high demand from China with our first shipments at the end of our season,” said Gokyigit, who also hopes for the early completion of the ongoing negotiations for a fig protocol between Turkey and China. As an affiliate of Tekfen Holding, Alanar is very confident of the Bursa Black Fig due to its superior eating qualities, large size and good storage capacity of about 20 days at 2ºC. Germany, the UK, the Far East, Canada and the large Turkish retail chains are the main customers of Alanar, which supplies the largest supermarkets in Germany, the UK, France and Hong Kong. Among the new markets for Alanar are India, China and South Korea.