Turkey, which is one of the few countries in the world with favorable weather conditions for hazelnut production, accounts for 75% of the global production and almost 75% of the exportation. The main hazelnut producing countries in the world are Turkey, Italy, Spain, USA and Greece. Turkey is far ahead of all others. Although hazelnut is also produced in the Former Soviet Union, Iran, Romania and France, these countries do not have a major input in the world hazelnut trade.
Turkey is the first world hazelnut producer and exporter. In addition, it covers approximately 70 percent and 82 percent of the world`s production and export respectively. It is followed by Italy with nearly 20 percent in production and 15 percent in export. The world hazelnut production shows fluctuations depending on the climatic conditions from year to year. Overall, world production has increased in parallel with Turkey’s production.
While Turkey’s average inshell production is 350-400 000 tons, this value has reached up to 500 000 tons in recent years. The production of Italy and Spain, additional important producing countries, varies between 100- 125,000 and 15-25,000 tons respectively. The USA consumes most of its own hazelnut production and also imports hazelnut kernel for the industry to meet its home demand. However, it has become a table hazelnut exporting country by increasing its production in recent years (25 000 tons). Among the producing countries, hazelnut consumption per person and year is highest in Italy (0.520 kg kernel/person). According to 1993 data, Greece is second (0.369 kg kernel/person) and Turkey is third (0.250 kg kernel/ person).
Worldwide, the highest hazelnut consumption per person and year is reached in Switzerland (2.096 kg kernel/person). Switzerland is followed by Austria, Belgium, Germany and Luxembourg. The world hazelnut exports show fluctuations according to world hazelnut production. Germany is the most important hazelnut importing country in the world and covers approximately 35 percent of the total world import. Though Italy is the second largest producing country in the world, it meets an important part of its chocolate industry demand with Turkey’s production. While Switzerland shows a stable rate of import, France, Austria, Belgium and Luxembourg are noted as countries which have increased the hazelnut import in recent years Turkey is a bridge between Asia and Europe in the northern hemisphere and has coast on three sides. Hazelnut is one of the most important nut crops in the world and has its origins in the centre of Anatolia. Wild species are found in Anatolia which have provided the source for today’s cultivated varieties. Hazelnut is grown in both the eastern and western regions of Turkey along the Black Sea, in areas where the soil is unsuitable for other crops and on sharply sloping soils (steeps higher than 20 percent). An additional benefit for hazelnut growing areas with high rainfall, is the crop’s ability to prevent soil erosion. Approximately two to three million growers (5 percent of the nation’s population) depend on hazelnut growing for their income and it is therefore easy to understand the strategic value of hazelnut production in the social and economic structure of this region. Turkey to date, is so far the world’s leading hazelnut producer, accounting for about 72.9 percent of the total world supply. About 60 percent of the crop is produced in the Eastern Black Sea Region, 15 percent is produced in the Central Region and the remaining 25 percent is produced in the Western Black Sea Region. Turkey’s 1997 hazelnut harvest was 480 000 t. The weather was usual for most of the early growing season.
However, hot, dry weather during June and July adversely affected the crop, thus reducing yields. The handling of hazelnut after harvest can be described as having two stages. In the first stage, the shell is cracked and the kernel separated. In the second stage, the kernel may undergo a variety of processes namely: blanching, roasting, slicing, mincing, pulverizing or being made into a paste. One hundred and sixty processing plants for hazelnut shelling presently operate in Turkey with a capacity of 1 271 250 t per year. The export of processed shelled hazelnut has risen proportionally with the increase in this processing capacity and presently 25-30 percent of the total exported hazelnut are processed products. Turkey accounts for more than 80 percent of the world’s hazelnut trade. Europe is the major market for Turkish hazelnuts. The Hazelnut Exporters Union continues to assess the possibility of expanding exports to new markets in the Far East, North America, including the United States, and countries of the Former Soviet Union. Hazelnut fields, widely spread in the Black Sea coasts of Turkey, have been located within 30 km from the coast towards inland. In the western Black Sea, it starts from Zonguldak (east of İstanbul) and extends to the east over the entire Black Sea like a green strip lying between the sea and the mountains almost until the Georgian boundary. 4.000.000 people are directly or indirectly related to hazelnut which has been produced on an area of 550-600 thousand hectares in Turkey, which is a fact that boosts the socioeconomic importance of hazelnut. Turkey has a distinguished place among the other hazelnut producers in the world, thanks to its high quality, and maintains its leading position in production and exportation.
Hazelnut tree, which grows in 36º – 41º northern latitudes and under special climate conditions, yields product within 30 km from the coast and at an altitude of maximum 750-1000 meters. In Turkey, the regions where hazelnut is grown can be divided into two sub-regions:
a) 1. Standard Region (eastern part of the Black Sea Region): Ordu, Giresun, Rize, Trabzon and Artvin provinces.
b) 2. Standard Region (middle and western part of the Black Sea Region): Samsun, Sinop, Kastamonu, Bolu, Düzce, Sakarya, Zonguldak and Kocaeli provinces.
Turkish hazelnut generally grows ripe between the beginning and the end of August, depending on the latitude of the field. Timely harvest is done by picking up the hazelnuts with leaves that fall to ground when the branches are shaken off. Another method of harvesting is the one where the hazelnuts are picked one by one from the branches. After being collected from the fields, hazelnuts are blended on
the same day or a few days later depending on the field status and laid to make a bed of 10-15 cm thickness to be pre-dried under the sun until their leaves turn brown. After drying, hazelnuts are separated from their leaves using harvesting machine (thresher) and laid over canopies in thin layers
to be dried under the sun. Total period of drying, including the pre-drying, can be maximum 15-20 days depending on the weather conditions. Drying naturally and under the sun is an im portant factor that gives the Turkish hazelnut its special taste.
Besides being consumed as snack both in Turkey and in the world, about 90% of hazelnuts are used in roasted, whitened, minced, sliced, powder and puree form as a side-ingredient in chocolate, biscuit, confectionary industry, in making sweets, pastries and ice-cream and in meals and salads. With a background of about five thousand years, hazelnut has great benefits for humankind through many ways such as its fruit and wood. Hazelnut shell is used as a very valuable and high calorie fuel particularly in hazelnut growing areas in our country. Furthermore, hazelnut wood is used in making baskets, walking sticks, chairs, fences and hand tools. Some types of hazelnut are grown as ecorative plants in parks and gardens. Hazelnut leaves and fruit leaves are used as fertilizer. Hazelnut oil is made from the excess amount of hazelnut. Crude hazelnut oil is refined to be used in meals and hazelnut pulp is used as additive in the animal food industry.
Industry and Trade
Currently, there are 180 breaking plants with an internal capacity of 1.800.000 tons per annum and 40 processing plants with an internal capacity of 350.000 tons per annum in our country. In 1970’s, 90% of our hazelnut export was in the form of hazelnuts with shell and natural hazelnut seeds but with the positive and fast developments in hazelnut processing industry, processed hazelnut exports started to account for 30% of our total exports in 2000. In parallel to the complete fulfillment of buyers’ requirements with the effective and careful quality control systems in every phase of production, particularly processed hazelnut seed exports are increasing every year. The processed hazelnuts prepared in our country have higher quality than the processed hazelnuts prepared by many exporters-manufacturers in their own plants by purchasing natural hazelnuts. Please find attached the minimum analyses performed by quality assurance departments as part of HACCP in the processed hazelnut seed production by both public and private sector.