The garlic sector in Turkey is struggling with costs, which in turn resulted in a lower production than usual. Although the quality is great and demand for the garlic is steady, the lower volumes mean there is little produce left after supplying the local market’s demand.
Kerem Baltu is the export manager of Tumen Pakeleme ve Tarim (Tumen Tarim) and has been in the garlic business for over thirty years. He thinks this season should have been the best season ever for Turkish garlic, but this isn’t the case: “ This year the quality of the Turkish garlic is better than ever, because of beneficial weather, with continued periods of cold, which affects the skin and makes the product strong. Unfortunately the truth for this season is different. Every year small farmers have to give up, thanks to increasing costs of labor and fertilizer. It gets harder to turn a profit with every year that passes.”
The decrease in garlic farmers has a direct impact on the export of the produce. “Turkish garlic is very popular in Turkey, thanks to its strong taste and smell. However since the production will be about 50 per cent less than what we had in previous years, I doubt there will be enough produce left to export after supplying the local market. This in turn means the prices will definitely go up.” Baltu explains.
When Tumen Tarim does export its garlic, it usually finds its way to European countries, says Baltu: “We export garlic to Poland, France, Ukraine and Italy. So we mostly have European costumers. Our goal is to enter the United Kingdom. We cultivate about 4000 tons of garlic annually. We have to compete with Spain, China and Egypt though, who have cheaper garlic than we do. This doesn’t really affect our market though, as Europeans prioritize quality and taste over the price. For the fresh garlic in Turkey, the price is around 1.5 euro per kg.”