Vegetal production is the leading sector of Turkish agriculture, and vegetal perishables constitute the backbone of the sector.
The availability of diverse ecological conditions has resulted in growing all temperate, most subtropical and some tropical products. According to the latest forecasts of TurkStat statistics, with a massive amount of 44,7 million tons, around 56% of Turkey’s total vegetative production derives from the fruit and vegetables sectorTable 1 illustrates the production of major fresh fruit and vegetables and the diversity of products. According to the Turkstat total fresh fruit and vegetable production is up 4.9% from 42,5 million tons to 44,7 million in 2011 mainly due to significant increase in tomato production. The production of 11 million tons makes tomatoes the most produced vegetable in 2011. Tomato production increased by 9.6% from 10 million tons to 11 million tons. Accordingly, its share in the total production is accounted for 24.6% in the same year. Watermelons and melons, having a share of 12.3% in overall fresh fruit and vegetable production, ranked second. Production of these vegetables increased by 3.5% from 5,3 million to 5,5 million tons in 2011. Grapes are the other major crop in Turkey’s fresh fruit and vegetable output with production of approximately 4,3 million tons, and constitute 9,6% of annual production. With a share of 8.1%, citrus fruit production has utmost importance in the vegetative production. Within total citrus output of almost 3,7 million tons, oranges account for 1,7 million tons and the rest of the group, including tangerines, grapefruits and lemons, constitutes 2 million tons. Turkey is the leading producer and exporter of fresh figs in the world. Bursa Siyahi grown in the Bursa province and Mut Figs grown in Mut are the most popular varieties in world’s fresh consumption in terms of production and export. Pome fruits are the second group in order of importance in Turkish fruit cultivation. Apples were the most outstanding species of this group with an annual average production figure of approximately 2.7 million tons in 2011. Quinces, the production dates back to early ages, used to be fruits grown only for domestic consumption but parallel to the increasing demand for exotic fruits in the world, Turkish quinces have lately become potential export fruits. Stone fruits, taking a share of 4.7% in overall fruit and vegetable production, rank fifth. This group involves apricots, peaches, plums, cherries and sour cherries. Crispy cucumbers are excellent for salads with their juicy flesh and pleasant taste. All these qualities make them highly popular among buyers. Cucumbers are one of the traditional vegetables grown in greenhouses. Stuffing peppers, green peppers and capsicums together represent annual production of 1,97 million tons on average. Besides outdoor cultivation, greenhouse production has been widely used in recent years. In addition to the above-mentioned products, many vegetables are available all year round thanks to adaptation of greenhouse production techniques. Major products grown in greenhouses are tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, melons, eggplants, green beans, squashes, etc. The demand for organic products has also created new export opportunities for Turkey. Owing to her great production potential, Turkey has started exporting remarkable quantities of organically grown fresh fruits and vegetables in recent years. Turkish fresh fruit and vegetable exporters are aware of the health and environmental considerations of customers and satisfy their needs by offering products which comply with both legislative and market requirements. Instruments such as ISO 9001, ISO 22000, HACCP, GAP and THE GLOBALGAP are indicators of quality, food safety and environmental consciousness. Turkish exporters have been successfully adopting these requirements which have an impact on world fresh fruit and vegetables trade.
The value of fresh fruit and vegetables exports which constitute around 16% of total agricultural exports were up 6,7% from 2,16 billion USD in 2010 to 2,3 billion in 2011. Citrus fruits led the list among exportable fresh fruits with a significant value of 1 billion US dollars in 2011. Lemons (354 million USD) rank first in total citrus fruit exports in terms of value. Turkish lemons are available throughout the year thanks to natural and modern cold storage facilities. Major export varieties are Interdonato and Lamas. On the other hand, tomatoes have a significant place in total fresh fruit and vegetables exports with a share of 24.6%, which corresponds to 433 million US dollars. Other major exported crops are grapes which account for 7.6% of total fresh fruit and vegetable exports. Among table grapes, Sultana is the most popular export variety, taking the biggest share in the overall fruit exports. Although Turkish sweet cherry exports date back to very recent years, the volume has shown remarkable increase due to the fact that they are gaining great popularity among buyers owing to their high quality, attractive appearance and delicious taste. In the meantime, Turkish exotic fruits namely figs, quinces and pomegranates are becoming more and more familiar to foreign importers. Turkey’s export drive has resulted in its fresh fruit produce being shipped to more than 50 countries throughout the world. Turkey has begun to enhance her market shares in the CIS countries. Other principal export products of the fresh fruit and vegetables sector are cucumbers-gherkins, peppers and onions. The Russian Federation, Iraq, Germany, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania, Saudi Arabia, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Poland have been major destinations for Turkish fresh fruits and vegetables. The Russian Federation, the leading export destination of the aforementioned product group, had a 36% share in Turkey’s total fresh fruit and vegetables with 829 million USD. Iraq is another major market, which has dramatically increased its share in Turkish fresh fruit and vegetables exports during recent years.