In 2017, Turkey exported 21,000 tons of organic food around the world. Reaching 68 countries, this earned them a staggering 87 million USD in revenue, which was an increase on 2016 of 17%.
The organic food market of Turkey is looking towards exporting even more goods in 2018, with countries like Germany, the USA and France driving the demand. Organic food companies are also eager to increase exports to the EU in general which is one of Turkey’s already existing fruitful business partnerships.
However, the demand is also growing within the country as Turks wholeheartedly embrace the concept of natural, pure food.
Organic Awareness in Turkey
The younger generations of Turkey are more food conscious than ever before. As well as organic food, veganism and vegetarianism are on the rise. Increasingly more organic shops are opening, and concepts like the traditional Turkish village breakfast with 100% natural ingredients are now a favourite meal, especially on weekends.
So why is organic food becoming more popular in Turkey and why is the country in an ideal position to fuel the worldwide growth in this lifestyle trend?
The Rise in Popularity of Organic Eating
The worldwide growth in popularity must be credited to an ever-moving stream of information explaining the many benefits, that organic food has for our bodies and health. Blogs giving nutritional information as well as famous TV chefs proclaiming that organic food has intensely more flavour bears fruit to the desire.
But for Turks, the concept is already there. Whether practising or not, a sizeable part of Turkish society is Muslims who believe in a significant relationship and bond between the body and soul. Hence any food item should be of substantial nutritional value and not tainted in any way. Organic food takes the concept of healthy eating one step further.
Fast and junk food hasn’t really taken off in Turkey either, so organic food doesn’t have strong competition. Many Turks believe frozen items are overpriced, lacking taste and a McDonald's hamburger or a six-pack of chicken nuggets just can’t compete with the real deal.
Whereas they can see the benefits of food that hasn’t been kept in cramped conditions, fed an unnatural diet or been subjected to chemicals that just shouldn’t be in the food chain.
Lastly, age-old Turkish food trends are also still dominant in society.
In some rural regions, farmers sell fresh milk straight from the cow who has been grazing in a green field under natural sunlight. Many animals slaughtered for Kurban Bayram are also purchased from small-scale farmers who adhere to time-honoured animal husbandry methods.
Ask any Turk where the best honey comes from, and they will tell you the north-eastern plateau ranges where nectar hasn’t been sprayed with chemicals and bees haven’t been stimulated with foreign bodies to increase production. Indeed, buying honeycombs or seeing natural beehives around the fields of Turkey are standard practices.
All these facts contribute towards Turkey’s growing interest in organic food, but the country is in an ideal position for supply and demand to the rest of the world, and for one good reason.
Organic Products and Companies in Turkey
Turkey has a distinct advantage in that it has three different climate zones, and soil conditions vary drastically from the east to the west. This means a variety of products can be grown naturally and as long as companies adhere to the time-honoured methods as well as, packaging and preservation protocol, they receive official licenses and accreditation as an organic producer.
According to the Aegean Export association, dried fruit and nuts are Turkey’s most popular products, and this isn’t a surprise because they always have and still feature heavily in Turkish cuisine and social protocols, not only for cooking and baking but also as a healthy snack.
One of Turkey’s most famous nut products are pistachios from the south-eastern Gaziantep region, where the dry climate and soil conditions allow for farms of mass sizes.
In the wet and humid north-eastern region, hazelnuts and tea are the primary products, and the first has been exported on a mass scale. Meanwhile, in the Aegean region, figs and olives are the traditional food product, while citrus fruits grow best in Antalya on the Mediterranean coast.
Indeed, Turkey has an ideal base and huge incentives to increase its organic food production. It has a long way to go before it can match the likes of India who has more land dedicated to organic farming than any other country, but watch this space because the next five years has much potential.
If you would like to know more, from the 5th to the 8th September, the World Food Seminar will take place in Istanbul. Drop by Salon number 3 to visit exhibitors and find out more information about organic food in Turkey.
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