Hamdi Taner – Alanar
First chestnut packaging facilities open up in Turkey
The current chestnut market is lacking in supply, driving chestnut prices ever higher. For the Turkish company Alanar, the current market situation is the ideal setting for its own plans for exporting chestnuts. “This is going to be our first year for exporting chestnuts,” explains Hamdi Taner. “We’re experienced in working with cherries, black figs, pomegranates and apricots. In the last three years, we’ve managed to strike up relationships with important supermarket chains. These chains asked us if we were also able to provide chestnuts.”
“Our chestnuts are available from the 20th of November. We’ve already started harvesting and packaging chestnuts, which will be driven by trucks to our customers in Germany and the UK. We’re also going to export to Canada and the Middle East,” says Hamdi.
Turkey has a well established sector for growing chestnuts. However, these chestnuts are usually exported to Italy, where the produce is sorted, pasteurized, washed, packaged and then sold with a profit to European retailers. By installing facilities that are similar to the ones used in Italy, Alanar can now circumvent the supply chain in Italy and provide chestnuts to European customers directly.
“Our sorting and packing lines are all installed at the same location in Aydin, which is an important region for the cultivation of chestnuts. Our facility is the first of its kind in Turkey, for which we had to invest €800,000. But in the end this will be beneficial for us, as we can now provide cheaper chestnuts to our retail customers.”
According to Hamdi, the yield of the current chestnut season has been good. However, there was a drought during the summer and the lack of rain led to smaller sizes. “Most of our chestnuts are sized 70 to 80. There is also a very limited supply, as the chestnut seasons of Italy and Spain have already finished.”
About 50% of all Turkish chestnut production ends up on the domestic market, which is mainly concentrated in city areas like Istanbul. However, Alanar is only concerned with export. “The domestic market doesn’t care for pasteurized chestnuts, which makes our production too expensive for the local market. As we’re the only company with the necessary facilities, we don’t have any Turkish competition for the export market. We do have to compete with Italian exporters, but we still have a price advantage.”
The Turkish harvest season is finished, but there is still a lot of volume left in storage. This volume will remain available for the next two months. The peak season for export occurs in the run-up to Christmas and after that the season will linger until January of February. In the meantime, Spain and Italy are forced to import and re-export chestnuts from Turkey.
The variety that Alanar produces is the marron chestnut, which is similar to the varieties that are being produced in Italy. According to Hamdi, it’s a very sweet type of chestnut with a good eating quality.
“Prices are very high for chestnuts, right now but production is limited. However, demand will continue and I don’t expect any decrease in price for the next couple of weeks. Maybe price oriented markets will have less demand for chestnuts, but big retailers still demand large volumes,” says Hamdi.
A major reason for the lack of supply has to do with the Italian sector being hampered by problems with chestnut trees. “Italy loses chestnut trees every year, while the Turkish sector is going strong. If these issues persist for the coming five to six years, we’ll see big possibilities for export. However, for now we don’t really want to push towards the market. All we want to do is provide chestnuts to our regular customers. That being said, we do want to become the biggest exporter of chestnuts in Turkey, as retailers are really positive about our products,” says Hamdi Taner in conclusion.
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Publication date: 11/22/2017
Author: Yzza Ibrahim
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