Turkish fresh produce exporter Eren sends a fair amount of their exported goods towards the Russian market. Coskun Eren, marketing manager for the company, hopes the current war with Ukraine gets a peaceful resolution soon: “The current situation is surely a tragedy and we hope that the world finds peace again, as soon as possible. The exports did not completely stop per se, things are just very complicated right now and the ruble devaluation, as well as payment difficulties with some banks, is currently scaring everyone in Russia about importing anything. I would hope this is a temporary delay, once things calm down a bit we should be able to resume as normal.”
In normal times, Eren exports all kinds of fruits and vegetables to Russia, Eren explains. “We ship all citrus products to Russia, as well as fruits, vegetables and berry varieties. There are a lot of varieties that we send, but it would take too long to list everything. Given the wide offering we have for the Russians, you can understand that Russia is an important market for us.”
Although the Russia situation is complicated right now, Eren isn’t worried about not being able to sell the fresh produce elsewhere: “Thankfully, other markets have been willing to take in the produce that we’re now left with. Working with 60+ different countries surely pays off in these kinds of situations. We shall have no problems with our stock. When it comes to prices for the citrus, we are now in the storage phase of the season. Most products are already bought and paid for by almost all the exporters. This creates a major obstacle in reducing the prices beyond a certain point. I do not expect any major price changes at the moment. Nevertheless, we always embrace long term relationships, so we will not leave our customers without produce in these hard times. For the upcoming fruit season, things are currently still uncertain. Whether we will be able to continue as usual with Russia will play a big role. If the situation does not get back to normal for a long period the fruit producer will be affected negatively and this will also translate to us, the exporter as well.”
A solid alternative for any leftover produce would be the local market in Turkey, as it would not only drop the price, but also the costs, making it a profitable option for Turkish exporters, Eren states. “When it comes to supply and demand, this is a complicated question to answer because Turkey has 80 million people in terms of population. The local demand plays a very significant role in consumption and prices even for the widely exported products. Even though the local market sells for lower prices, the costs of operations locally are also quite lower compared to export operations. We also send a lot of products to Europe as well. For us, the surplus, if any, can be managed.”
With the EU taking measures that would prevent Russian banks to use the SWIFT system, it’s expected that some payment difficulties could pop up. “There is always some balance open with Russia, as we work with this market almost all year round. We are hearing some payment difficulties being talked over for certain banks, but so far, we’ve not had any issues with receiving payments. Maybe that will change from now on as the SWIFT bans become active, but again; we’re not worried about that much. We work with very reliable partners and have been working with them for many years as well. We do not believe we will have any bad debt in the end. Once the world cools down a bit, things should hopefully get back to normal. Of course, we’re not just banking on that and waiting. We’re also looking for alternative ways of getting the payments through, if this goes on for an extended period of time.”
“The war will have an effect for sure. Not just on our business with Russia, but we also do business with Ukraine, we also do business with Belarus and these regions live in very uncertain times right now. Plus, the cost of energy is going up very fast, this will also increase the costs of everything, making procurement, logistics, and sales harder. For now, the Russian market is open for us, if that situation changes it will bring more problems as well. We have already had several meetings to discuss how to handle the current crisis. I believe that our wide portfolio of products, plus our market diversity, will get us through these times. These are very unfortunate events for everyone, we just hope the world gets past it quickly, and with peace in the end.” Eren concludes.