Turkish asparagus exporter eyes European potential

August 10 , 2017

Nomad Food & Agricultural Company (NFAC) owner Arman Badur plans to exploit European market opportunities by doubling asparagus production over the coming years. 

Arman Badur

Badur has already heavily invested in high-tech greenhouse technology to boost asparagus growing cycles and has 50 hectares of field and tunnel production, 95% of which ends up in the Turkish market.

And now he is searching for independent growers in order to double production to 100 hectares to keep pace with demand coming from EU markets for different colored asparagus.

After building a solid market base selling the vegetable domestically, Badur is gearing up to supply higher quantities to the U.K. and Scandinavia, two particularly desirable markets, he says.

Small volumes went into the Netherlands, Germany and Kuwait for the first time last year, and shipments to these markets started again in April. However, Badur believes the European continent and the U.K. could absorb much higher volumes.

But he needs to expand his network of growers.

“We are searching for partners right now,” he tells Fresh Fruit Portal.

“By increasing our network we will double production and expand export markets. Our asparagus is a very attractive product and various European countries do not have too much of a supply from other producer countries, with the exception of Peru.”

He said EU markets could take high premium asparagus varieties grown by the company, such as Atlas, Apollo and Early California.

“We were in contact with some Swedish companies recently but export was not possible because of the low prices at the beginning of the season, so next year we want to pursue the Swedish market and also try the British market, which would be significant.”

Limgroup collaboration

Last year NFAC started a partnership with Dutch breeders Limgroup BV for varietal trials to determine the most suitable cultivars for the Turkish climate.

“The trials with the likes of Starlim and other varieties are going very well,” Badur continues.

“The technology we are using allows us to increase the crop cycle as usually asparagus has a limited cycle. By using greenhouses for different seasons we can extend this cycle and then have supply for the off-season.”

Badur explains how a mixture of tunnel and field production helps maximize the growing season which runs from the end of February until the end of September.

“Right now the majority is for the local market with up to 5% going for export this year, so the scope for potential is quite significant.

“The plan is to increase the 50 hectares because only when we have more than 70 hectares can we fill a complete cooler truck in one or two days, so then we can export by road freight within three to four days to any location in Europe.

“Otherwise we have to make partial supplies which is more complicated.”

The company was the first to produce Turkish asparagus on a large scale. Of the 145 metric tons (MT) of asparagus produced in Turkey last year, the company claims it produced 122MT.

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