The start of the Turkish apple season has been promising so far this season, with growers and importers across various markets expressing high expectations, says Okan Imancer, co-founder and export manager for Turkish apple exporter The Fresh Apple. “We know that lots of exporters are ready to deliver a good volume of high-quality fruit for export markets. The new season starts with Gala variety, which is expected to be particularly popular this season, with new orchards coming into production in the Karaman/Nigde area. The harvesting of Gala apples started around the last days of August. Demand for Gala apples were more than we have expected especially from India and overall, the Turkish apple season is expected to be a success in 2023, with good quality and volume expected.”
Despite the promising start, Imancer feels it’s too early to celebrate a successful season just yet. “It’s important to note that it’s still early in the season, and there are some factors that could impact the final outcome. Weather conditions still could play a role, as well as increases in prices and less volume of suitable quality for the international markets. Additionally, the global economic situation could also have an impact on demand for Turkish apples. Overall, the start of the 2023 Turkish apple season has been very positive so far, and there are good reasons to be optimistic. However, we believe that we be very careful about some negative factors for about the rest of the year.”
There are several problems that could come to light after the heatwave that plagued Turkish orchards this summer, Imancer explains: “Obviously, the heatwave that affected Turkey in the summer of 2023, is likely to have a negative impact on the apple season. Heatwaves can cause a number of quality problems for apple trees, such as sunburn, water stress, fruit drop and reduced fruit quality. The extent of the impact of the heatwave on the apple season will depend on a number of factors, including the severity and duration of the heatwave, the timing of the heatwave during the growing season, and the resilience of the apple trees.”
Imancer expects there will be different consequences for the various apple growing regions in Turkey. “The heatwave is also likely to have an indirect impact on the apple season. For example, the heatwave may have led to water shortages, which could make it difficult for growers to irrigate their orchards. Additionally, the heatwave could lead to higher prices for inputs such as fertilizer and labor. The extent of the impact is still uncertain and will depend on a number of factors. In the Karaman/Nigde area, where the Gala variety is expected to be particularly popular this season, the heatwave has caused premature fruit drop and reduced fruit size. In the Isparta region, which is a major producer, the heatwave has caused sunburn and reduced fruit quality. Overall, I can say we are expecting a lower yield of suitable quality for export markets in 2023, due to the heatwave.”
As the production of apples in India is lower than usual this season, demand for Turkish apples is higher than Imancer expected this early in the season: “International demand is slightly above our expectations. The main reason for this, is the low yield of India's domestic apples, which is currently our biggest market. While in the previous season the active period for us started in December, this season started in September. Although high demand has many advantages, it also brings with it some disadvantages. One of the issues that makes us think for the future is that, new players who do not know the export quality and do not know the all details about export process; but want to export with the excitement of the high demand, might damage the perception of the ‘Turkish Apple’ in international markets.”
Prices for the Turkish apples could also be higher than they were last season. Imancer states there are multiple reasons for this. “The high demand, the limited quality, the higher inflation rate compared to foreign exchange rates in the previous year, and the increase in the proportion of local and packaging costs at total costs, caused apple prices is going to be higher compared to the previous season. In addition, farmers predicted that the Turkish Lira would lose more value against foreign currencies during the season, and made placed the apple price higher than it should be at the beginning of the purchasing season. Prices will move upwards during the season, especially as the amount of suitable quality of apples for export markets decreases. In addition, unlike last season, I think that apples that are smaller in size and lighter in color will be sold at very valuable prices as the season progresses.”
“In general, I can say that an interesting season awaits us. We see that there are many opportunities that are beneficial for us. However, it will be difficult for us to find suitable quality raw materials for export, and this is one of the biggest challenges that awaits us. The increase in the number of large and small players in the market may be one of the factors that will negatively affect the season as well. Frankly, we will not be looking for many new customers this season. Our current goal is to meet the demands of our existing customers. If possible, adding a few new partners to our portfolio in Malaysia, Singapore and some African countries will be our secondary plan for this season,” Imancer concudes.