The Turkish grape season is about to get started, and the Turkish seem to have an advantage over their competitors. An airline that basically guarantees them the ability to get their produce shipped overseas. One Turkish exporter is looking forward to the season, as they expect an increase in sales this year.
It’s been a turbulent year, including Turkish fresh fruit exporter Aksun, marketing manager Akin Soyleyen says: “As obvious as it is; this year has been quite a roller-coaster ride for the world, including the fresh fruit industry. With all the unknowns, it was and still is very hard to predict market demand. Although the disruptions seem to be minimal for the food industry, as the industry is mostly considered to be inelastic due to its nature, it still remains to be a question if the high value items such as fresh fruit will have adequate supply considering the logistics of food items.”
In just a few weeks, the Turkish grape season will start. Soyleyen feels the pandemic has a chance to increase fruit consumption: “For our grapes, as for most of our line of fruits, we are expecting an increase between ten to fifteen percent in sales this season, compared to the last. Currently what the research tells us is that people tend to spend more time at home, rather than outside. This is still the case, even though most of our target countries have loosened their restrictions. Nevertheless, the fruit consumption at home has increased especially for certain commodities. For the past few years Sultana grapes have seen incremental and stable increase in demand, especially from European countries.”
“The fruit size is small, hence it’s good for kids and since it is both seedless and sweet, this fruit is becoming more popular every year amongst our clients. We’re looking to start the season in the first week of August with ‘’Superior Seedless’ and then will continue with Sultanas after the first week of August. There are three main regions for the Sultanas, the first two regions have had no problems, but the third region had some hail damage. However it seems this damage if very minimal and we don't expect any disruptions in the supply. Prices are expected to be stable throughout the season.” Soyleyen says.
A lot of countries and exporters are having to deal with logistical problems, especially when it comes to air freight. Soyleyen feels Aksun has an advantage of their competitors, as Turkish Airlines has offered to help the Turkish fruit exporters. “As our company heavily relies of airfreight, especially for the 1500 tons of summer fruits we move every season, we are always on top of things when it comes to airfreight cargo. There are still disruptions but as far as we can see, we have a very big advantage over other countries, which is our domestic airliner ‘Turkish Airlines’. They are the largest airliner to fly to most destinations all over the world. This is especially very important when you are facing a pandemic with all the insecurities. We have our airliner that has guaranteed our ability to move our produce. Currently there is nowhere we can't go, be that large cities like Shanghai or Singapore, as well as remote islands such as Seychelles.”
The help from the Turkish Airliner doesn’t come free of charge however, and the prices of getting their cargo across the world have increased significantly. “The only affect that we experienced is the increase in logistic cost which is around 80 to 200 per cent. This has put a bit of pressure on the pricing infrastructure for the fruit as well as financial management. Now we’re looking at logistics budgets, which for our destinations will be around 212 per cent higher than they were in 2019. So it’s harder financially to control and manage these kinds of financial liabilities. We are much more fortunate in transport via land, as within our group we also own our truck fleet. We provide door to door service to our clients within the EU with custom cleared goods. This is especially useful when there is a limited supply of trucks available to outsource. So thanks to them, we are never behind on our schedule of delivery.”
Looking forward to next year, Aksun has plans to add apples to their inventory as well as install even more solar panels to become as green as they can: “For 2021 our aim is to increase our capacity with new items added. Currently we are on the verge of closing a deal for a new apple line. Apples have not been a commodity we have worked on since last year, but we have received really good feedback from our clients. In the light of this feedback, this year we have run through some numbers to see what the apple market would look like for us if we are to be involved. We have seen some very promising numbers. We’re very excited about this and what it may bring to our company. Another opportunity for us will be Thailand opening as a market to Turkish apples. We have already applied to be listed in to supply to our clients in Thailand, which is one of the largest markets for apples.”
“Three years ago when we were moving to our new packhouse, we had a vision of becoming as green as we can and we’re certainly achieving that with our solar panels. They produce around 87 per cent of our energy requirements. With our new apple investment coming up, we are looking to increase our solar panel volume by another 50 per cent, to accommodate for the coming investments electrical needs,” Soyleyen concludes.