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Arman Badur - Kuskonmaz
Green asparagus – Turkey’s potential cash cow
Turkey has never been really known for producing or exporting asparagus. Currently asparagus producers only sell enough for the local market.
“Green asparagus demand has been growing in Turkey in the past few years. Our company has been experiencing a gradual increase of 50% year on year solely in the domestic market. Gradually green asparagus has been being introduced to new fields, and I expect it to do so for the next 3 – 4 years. Currently, my company moves around 175 tons and we expect to grow this next year to 240 tons of green asparagus. Although we only conduct business with a handful of retailers in Istanbul and do online selling, we are expecting this to change in the future,” according to the founder of Nomad and a current partner, Arman Badur. His company also deals small quantities of white and purple asparagus, which has a lower demand in the Turkish market.
The main producers of asparagus in the world are Peru and Mexico. For Turkey this means doing business with re-sellers in the Netherlands, due to its distance from the other-side of the Atlantic. “In the past Turkey used to import most of its asparagus from Latin America through the Netherlands. Now it still does but less. Recently this only happens during our off-season. In Turkey the asparagus season happens from February to September. In the first two months the asparagus is grown indoor, using artificial lighting – after which it is grown in the open field,” says Badur.
Since the last 20 years Turkey has transformed into a big consumer and producer of fresh fruits and vegetables. More and more new varieties of fruits and vegetables not locally grown have been introduced to the country. “Broccoli and avocados are also new produce that have been recently introduced to Turkey. People generally like green colored fruits and veggies. This is why the green asparagus does so well. People generally prepare green asparagus with onions and eggs. It is boiled then seasoned with butter or vinegar, then paired with pasta or meat,” Badur adds.
Prices have recently been high in favor of the local producers. It is more expensive than asparagus coming from Europe, because of the lack of local competition. Local asparagus is still preferred because of its freshness, due to Turkey’s distance from Latin America, which will always give local producers the upper-hand.
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