Turkey, the Eurasian giant, is following in the steps of the province that invented using plastic to make profits from early vegetables.
Turkey is at the same latitude as Almeria and, bridging geographical distances and volume, they have the same economic model: intensive agriculture, natural stone and tourism for people with medium purchasing power.
Turkish agriculture is progressively ceasing to be extensive agriculture as the acreage of greenhouses increase day by day to nearly 50,000 acres.
However, Turkey is still shooting blanks. The country can do more damage if its accession treaty with the EU or if its free trade agreement with the Euro-Mediterranean are successful. Its main market is the same as Almeria's marketing companies, old and new Eastern Europe.
Operators from Turkey threaten to invade the European market, just as they did with the markets in Moscow after the Russian veto, with their 11 million tons of tomato production, which is mostly destined for domestic consumption. The main handicap that Turkish producers are currently facing is the price of their products. The country produces four times as many tomatoes than Spain, ten times more than Almería (844 300 tons), but Almeria makes $432 million Euro while Turkey makes $480 million. The average price of the tomatoes from Almeria is 0.49 Euro per kilo, while the Turkish tomatoes are below ten cents.
Germany is the largest market for Spanish and Turkish tomato producers.
Turkey has focused its attention on improving the quality of its tomatoes, a product that is the cornerstone for Almeria and Turkey's agricultural sector, as it is the vegetable that they export the most. No other Spanish province would be as damaged by Turkish tomatoes, as Almeria produces 60% of the tomato production in Andalucia with around 10,000 hectares of greenhouses.
Turkey already has 25,000 acres of tomatoes in greenhouses. According to the Turkish Embassy in Madrid, the country didn't have half of that number a decade ago.
The Turkish tomatoes are also gaining terrain with their quality. Even though there is an occasional health alert on Turkish fresh vegetables, no region has as much prestige in Germany, the largest market for the companies from Almeria. Additionally, Turkey is also exponentially increasing the acreage devoted to organic farming and currently has 36,000 certified producers.
Almeria's top asset in the markets is that it has increased its biologically controlled tomato production by almost 85%. However, Turkey has also begun to study this model. Numbers in hand and, after its growth in the last decade, Turkey is the main market threat for the fields of Dalías and Nijar.