Offering figs year round has been a challenging but satisfying project for Turkish exporting company Alanar. Rather than just export figs from Turkey, they have growers in Latin America and Africa as well. With the coronavirus spreading fast, more challenges will come up. The exporter believes they will still be able to supply the world with figs and cherries, but most of all hope humanity can get through the crisis soon.
For Yigit Gokyigit it has been busy times, as their figs that are grown in Latin America are in season. “We have a project called 365-Day-Fig-Project. Alanar is the biggest fig exporter of Turkey, but now we also provide fresh figs to our customers all around the world through the figs grown overseas. Various growers in Latin Americas and Africa grow figs exclusively for Alanar with highest possible standards. Our teams manage the orchards in these countries and run the coordination between the work in the orchards to the packing process. This way, our expertise and know-how is passed along, as we’ve been the largest figs exporter in the world for many years now. At the moment, special varieties of Parisienne and Black Mission are grown by Alanar. These products were introduced to the market this year and have received positive demand so far.”
Working with growers that are such a long distance away from Alanar’s home base in Turkey hasn’t always been easy, but thanks to their team they have been managing quite well, keeping the quality up to par with how they grow figs in Turkey: “The Black Mission-variety will end in couple of weeks, so volume is decreasing at the moment. We expect to have Parisienne until June, volume is at its peak now. We have a very good demand coming all around the world, especially North America and the Far East. Due to Coronavirus, our sales to Europe have been affected starting this week. Demand is coming from everywhere. I believe we will provide our globally grown figs to the leading supermarkets in Europe, especially in Germany and France.”
When speaking on coronavirus, Gokyigit feels Turkey has done a good job of maintaining the spread. “Comparing to the rest of the Europe, Turkey is controlling the COVID-19 quite well so far. The government of Turkey started to take precautions at an early stage of the virus and people in Turkey are also highly conscious about the situation. Therefore, I believe it will be totally controlled and solved in the near future. We know how fast this virus can spread because of examples we have seen, such as China or Italy. Turkey as a nation stepped up when the situation demanded it, our country took measures before it had spread widely. Alanar is a subsidiary of Tekfen Holding, and Tekfen also took the decision of working at home as much as possible for a while, starting this week. This means people who work in the office are now doing their job from home. We are in touch with our business partners in Europe. I believe the current situation will be recovered there just as has happened in China, eventually.”
Since Gokyigit travels a lot for Alanar, he often visits Europe. Although it has only been a week since he was last in one of the European countries, the world then and the world now seems completely different to him: “The virus spreads so fast in Europe, especially in the last couple of days. I was in Western Europe a little over a week ago, the situation is definitely totally different right now. I know all our customers are working at home now. Alanar is part of a big group in Turkey and we’re getting ready for different kinds of scenarios. It’s good that the coronavirus is at least partially controlled in Far East at the moment, which is also one of our major markets,” Gokyigit explains.
He has high hopes that the Turkish cherry season will be able to go on as per usual: “The cherry is one of the major fresh fruits of Turkey that we export as well. That season will start relatively soon, in May. Since the coronavirus is controlled in Turkey at the moment, I believe the virus will not affect the cherry season as much and we should be able to export to Europe as well when the first harvest arrives.”
Although Gokyigit understands companies can be worried, the most important factor is the human aspect for him: “I hope whole world will get through coronavirus soon. We talked about business here, but let’s not forget that human lives are affected all over the world. Human life is the most important thing and I believe we can overcome anything with cooperation and conscious behavior. We hope everyone stays safe until the virus has been beaten,” he concludes.