Turkey could set cherry export record in 2018

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Turkey could set cherry export record in 2018

The Turkish cherry industry has enjoyed good growing conditions and could be in for record exports this season.

A representative of Alanar said the world's leading production country could top the 70,000 metric tons (MT) exported last campaign.

"We just started early last week and in general, from the earliest to the latest regions, we expect very good yields," deputy general manager Hamdi Taner said, noting there had been almost no frost damage this year.

"We see that quality is very positive - crunchy, delicious, and high Brix levels. It will be an exciting year for Turkish cherries."

He also noted the harvests were running earlier than last year.

"Compared to last year, this year started 10-15 days before, and we expect to continue to around the middle of end of July. So we have 8-10 weeks of cherry season this year and we think that we are going to break the export record of Turkey."

Taner expected that lower crops in Italy, Spain and the U.S. state of California would create good opportunities for Turkish cherries in Europe and the Far East respectively.

He said prices are high at the moment in Europe - Turkey's biggest cherry export market - and he also anticipated greater demand from Russia this year as it is hosting the soccer world cup, which starts in June.

"We have enough product to be able to supply enough quantities to all these markets," he said.

Demand is strong from the Far East, he said, although Turkey only ships minor volumes to the region at present.

Taner said that China's recent implementation of additional taxes on U.S. fruit imports could create more demand for Turkish cherries, but he said that the current export protocol - which includes 16 days of cold treatment - was not favorable. However, he expected Turkey to reach a deal for improved market access soon.

Aside from mainland China, other Far Eastern markets Turkey ships to are Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore. He said work is underway to gain market access to other Asian countries like South Korea and Japan.

"It will take some years, but we believe that in 5-10 years' time the Far East will be one for the biggest markets for Turkish cherries," he said.

Germany is Turkey's main market in Europe, Taner said. The industry had good penetration in the U.K. market around a decade ago, but he said that Spain had taken much of the market share over recent years.

"Turkish cherries still have a big market in Europe, but almost all countries have started to produce cherries so we need a point of difference so we have started to plant new varieties - and Regina is one of them," he said.

The most abundant variety in Turkey is 0-900 Ziraat, but Taner said production of Regina would increase significantly over the coming years.

He said Turkey typically produces around 450,000MT of cherries annually, with a little under half consumed fresh in the local market and the remainder either exported or sold for processing.




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