For the past several years, Turkey has been positioning itself as a main player in the apple producing markets. Aysel Oguz of Anadolu Etap, a Turkish grower and exporter of apples, soft fruits and stone fruits, explains that through the use of cool storage rooms, their apple season starts in August and lasts through June, allowing them to produce almost year round, with volumes increasing every year.
“The quantity of apples produced by our trees increases as the trees mature, so our volumes are getting higher each year. We currently have eight farms covering 3,000 hectares of land with 5,000,000 trees and our expectation is to have between 50,000 and 60,000 tons of apples this year,” Aysel says.
The season began two months ago and while Turkey had some issues with frost in specific areas in the country, which caused some minor issues in some of their varieties, the overall quality and quantity of the crop is looking good.
Of the demand, Aysel says: “This year, the demand for the Gala apples has increased too due to the bad harvest in Poland, but generally Poland is not one of our main competitors because they grow different varieties than we do - our most popular varieties are Royal Gala, Granny Smith, and Red Delicious, but we also produce Golden Delicious, Braeburn, Fuji, and some others.”
While the company has a strong presence in the local market, supplying the local retail chains and selling in the wholesale markets in Istanbul, their main goal is packing product for export. The company’s main export markets for apples are in the Middle East, India and Asia, as well as some islands like Mauritius and the Maldives.
They began exporting to Asia a few years ago, and this has proven to be a fruitful market for them. “We are doing good volumes of apples, pomegranates, pears, and have even been successful with container shipments of stone fruits such as plums, peaches, and nectarines. We also do some soft fruits such as cherries, black figs which we ship by airfreight to their destinations,” Aysel explains.
Anadolu Etap is currently working on expanding their organic apple offer: “Some of our plots with conventional varieties are in the processes of transitioning to organic at the moment. In our experience, the demand for organic is dependent on specific buyers rather than whole markets. We have seen, for example, that retailers are often more interested in organic that wholesalers are.”
Regarding the future of the company and their position in the apple market, Aysel concludes: “Countries such as Ukraine and Azerbaijan are trying to get into the business and if they continue to improve their quality and packaging they might be named a competitor in several years, but we have proven our quality, sustainability, and our commitment to all of our customers, which ensures that we have a steady demand.”