The Turkish pavilion attracted its fair share of attention at Asia Fruit Logistica in Hong Kong last week, particularly the stand of Yavuz Taner and his company Alanar.
His fresh figs may have had something to do with it.
“I enjoyed serving figs last year in the same fair. I liked it so much that this year I’m back again,” he told www.freshfruitportal.com.
“This is my appreciation - I have 4,000 figs here so when I offer them to the visitors here I’ll have 4,000 faces smiling after tasting them.”
Like the increasing volumes coming to Hong Kong supermarkets every week, the Bursa black figs for degustation came from their namesake town south of Istanbul near the Marmara Sea.
“It’s a specialty of the town itself. All around the world I have seen figs grown but this variety in the Bursa region adapted very nicely for that region and it is of one of the highest qualities you’ll find,” Taner said.
“There are 260 varieties of figs grown in Turkey and there is only one variety that is exported. It’s the Bursa black fig because it also has the shelf life to do it.
“We can store it 15 days, or in cold storage at 2-4°C it can be kept for 20 days no problem.”
The company's figs are mostly sold to the EU where Alanar also has a market for its cherries, and more recently apricots and pomegranates of the Wonderful variety.
“We have 400 hectares of our company land where we grow all these fruits. Apricots are our baby shall we say, and cherries and figs have been very important for our company. Pomegranates are a developing product for us as well.”
But as Alanar has expanded its product range, so too has its portfolio of export markets, facilitated by direct flights from Istanbul to Hong Kong with Turkish Airlines.
“For the last four or five years we’ve been trying to penetrate by air shipments mainly the Far East market,” Taner says.
“It’s been very successful really with all of our products. Naturally the quantities are just a few tons each shipment, but at the end of the season when we add the shipments it adds up to high tonnages.
“It’s an attractive market, they demand high quality fruits and that’s what we deal with as a company. And we have a good client base, especially in Hong Kong…I see potential for this fruit all over the Far Eastern world.”
To bolster volume and maintain consistent quality, Alanar’s business model is also supported by a modern nursery operation.
“When we sell nursery trees we also want to get consultancy in addition to selling the trees,” he said.
“Also with the consultancy and modern style of growing we try to purchase the same fruit from growers that we sell the trees to. It is an integrated business for us.”
The Turkish industry also came very close this year to exporting to mainland China for the first time, however a protocol did not come over the line in time.
“There’s a very high expectation from the Turkish growers – although we have not sent in the past year directly to China yet, we had the Chinese people visiting us and our authorities visited China.
“In due time I expect an explosion of business really with China and Turkey with fresh fruits and vegetables, because we have high quality fruit for the Chinese people.”