Food production is an important part of the Turkish economy. Almost 20% of its GDP is provided by the food and beverage industry and it is preparing for further expansion. The following is an overview of the Turkish market and the business opportunities it presents for Swiss SMEs.

The Turkish government has set itself the goal of substantially increasing food production by 2023. This overarching goal is comprised of several smaller targets, such as achieving USD 150 billion in gross agricultural domestic product, USD 40 billion in agricultural exports, establishing 8.5 million hectares of irrigable area (up from 5.4 million) and achieving the number one ranking in fisheries in comparison with the EU.

Agricultural production

Turkey is the seventh largest agricultural producer in the world and is the global leader in the production of dried figs, hazelnuts, sultanas/raisins and dried apricots. The country is also one of the world’s leading producers of honey. Turkey’s milk production amounted to 22.1 million tons in 2018, making it the leading milk and dairy producer in the region. The country’s total output of cereal crops is 34.4 million tons, total vegetable output is 30 million tons, total fruit output is 22.2 million tons, total poultry output is 2.1 million tons, and total red meat production is 1.1 million tons. In addition, while Europe has 11,500 species of plants, there are estimated to be 11,000 in Turkey alone.

As Turkey is one of the largest exporters of agricultural products in the Eastern Europe, Middle East and North Africa (EMENA) region; its abundant production enables the country to maintain a significant trade surplus. In 2018, Turkey exported around 1,800 types of agricultural products to more than 190 countries around the world, with an export value of USD 17.7 billion.

Opportunities in agribusiness sub-sectors

Turkey offers significant investment opportunities in agribusiness sub-sectors, such as fruit and vegetable processing, animal feed, livestock, poultry, dairy products, functional foods and fisheries, in addition to relevant technology, resources and infrastructure (especially cold chain distribution, greenhouses, irrigation and fertilizers)

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the most in-demand product categories in Turkey are:

  • Fish and seafood: USD 172 million – As Turks turn to the sea for healthier alternative protein sources, their popularity continues to increase.
  • Processed fruits and vegetables: USD 134.5 million
  • Snacks: USD 134.4 million. The average age of the Turkish population is 30.2 years old, and this statistic supports the huge demand for snacks.

Need for imports

The report published by the Federation of Food and Drink Industry Associations of Turkey (TGDF) in June 2020 marks several strong and weak points in the country’s food and drink sector, enabling us to draw conclusions on market opportunities. Turkey is not a self-sufficient country when it comes to pulses and must import them. The country is also dependent on foreign sources for raw materials in the vegetable oil industry. The shortage of raw materials in the oilseeds industry continues and the drastic increase in prices that occurred early in the pandemic still persists today. This ongoing situation is driving the Turkish government to import a large quantity of raw materials and vegetable oil. Besides this, the market is also open to alternative products such as canola oil.

Turkey is a notable importer of feed for the poultry industry. Some 45% of feed used in the Turkish poultry sector is imported. In the absence of essential regulations in this sector, the need for import will persist.

Effects of the Covid-19 Pandemic

During the pandemic, consumer attention has shifted to packaged products and the demand for products perceived as healthy has increased. In addition, packing and storing technology is not at the required level and needs development. This creates a gap for investment and can be viewed as a great opportunity for Swiss companies.

Furthermore, the pandemic has highlighted that the logistics industry must be able to facilitate micro-sized deliveries to home consumers. Turkey’s logistical infrastructure cannot adequately accommodate the home delivery of chilled products. For this reason, the necessary infrastructure must be developed on the micro scale. As far as cooling technology and the logistics of chilled and frozen products are concerned, the gap in the market enhances the potential investment opportunities for interested Swiss companies.

Turkish dairy market

Finally, for the dairy industry, the quality of raw milk is below international standards and the majority of the milk production process remains unrecorded. The technology and facilities needed to increase the quality of raw milk once again creates convenient opportunities for Swiss players to enter the market.

Potential and ongoing projects

An overview of ongoing food projects in Turkey can be found in the PDF document in the download section.

by :  Yasemin Öztürk, Swiss Business Hub Turkey