Taking a look at the Turkish food & drink industry

How well do you know Turkey's food & drink industry? Read on to find out the gaps in the market waiting to be filled by exporters like you.

Turkey. Crossroads of Europe and Asia. Home to nearly 80 million people – and a major food and drink player.
Production of foodstuffs is a big component of Turkey’s economy – nearly 20% of its GDP is covered by the food and drink sector – and is gearing up for further expansion. By 2023, the Turkish government has set the goal of greatly boosting its food output.
Domestically, Turkey’s food industries are strong. Crucially, however, there remains a lot of room for international brands to grab a market share and begin exporting goods there.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the Turkish food industry in a bit more detail. We’re looking for market gaps and spaces only international companies’ produce can fill.

Turkey’s food & drink sector: an overview

As touched on above, food and drink production is an industry worth roughly $141 billion. Agriculture is a cornerstone of Turkey’s economy, and its output easily makes it the Middle East’s largest producer of fruits, nuts, and vegetables. In fact, it’s the 7th largest agricultural producer in the world.
Turkey specialises in a number of in-demand products. It leads the world in production and processing of hazelnuts, apricots, figs, cherries, quinces, and raisins, for instances. Tomatoes are also a key commodity – especially on the Russian market.
But, of course, food manufacturing is more than just growing and harvesting crops. It’s about creating everything from ice cream through to oils and beyond; it’s investing in the meat industry; it’s boosting aquaculture nationwide. Turkey is in the midst of all this.
it’s not like Turkish brands are restricted to just the domestic market, either. Turkish food has a regional – and, indeed, a global – presence. Ülker, for example, is one of Earth’s giants of biscuits, cakes and confectionery. Yildiz Holdings owns many foreign brands, such as the UK’s McVitie’s biscuits, and elsewhere Beta tea has transformed itself from Turkey’s first tea importer to a major international player.
Turkey boasts over 41,000 registered producers – but shakeups in the country’s demographics, and rising domestic production costs is opening the door wider for foreign goods.

Turkey imports $5 billion of food & drink annually

Turkey used to be a net exporter of food. Thanks to an increasing population made up of young, busy professionals, alongside the aforementioned production cost increases, has essentially given the green-light for imports to really hit the market.
In fact, in July 2017, import duties were dropped on ingredients crucial to Turkey’s food processing industry. Ingredients like cereals and pulses had their import tariffs dropped, as did red meat and live animals for slaughter.
For the last few years, import values have been rising steadily, to the point where they’re now worth around $5 billion a year.

Fish & seafood is Turkey’s top import category

So, what are Turkish importers after? According to a review by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the biggest in demand product categories* are:
• Fish & seafood - $172m – Rising in popularity as Turks turn towards the sea for a healthier alternative protein source to source.
• Processed fruits & vegetables – $134.5m – Despite being a major agricultural nation, Turkey isn’t self-sufficient in its output, hence imports of these categories.
• Snack foods - $134 .4m – The median age of the average Turk is 30.2 years, whose busy, on-the-go lifestyles is creating a big demand for snack foods.
*All data taken from the USDA
You can find out more about Turkey’s food and drink imports here.
Apart from the usual suspects, there are a few more niche items making headway on Turkey’s import market right now. These include cocoa, of which Turkey, with its massive confectionery industry, has no local production of, speciality cheeses, and organic food.
Get more information on these popular import categories here.
Food additives are also another area for international suppliers to consider. Just 15% of the most commonly used additives are produced in Turkey. The remaining 85%, featuring additives like calcium carbonate, citric acid, aromas, and colourings, is sourced from overseas.
Food retail & service = more billion-dollar market entry points
Food retail covers 62% of all Turkish retail sales. In monetary terms, it matches Turkey’s food production output at around another $140 billion. Likewise, the food service industry makes up 6% of Turkey’s total commercial food and drink activities.
The HoReCa sector, buoyed by Turkey’s well-known and well-loved tourism industry, is particularly robust. On the retail side of things, Turkey is increasingly moving towards Western-style hyper and supermarket models, which is likely to result in even greater sales volumes and market space for foreign produce
Book your space today to meet these industry professionals and thousands more.

WorldFood Istanbul: You perfect market entry point

As well as HoReCa players and major retailers, you can meet thousands of importers, distributors, wholesalers, and more key buyers at WorldFood Istanbul: Turkey’s leading international food and drink exhibition.
Over 13,000 professional visitors from Turkey, the Middle East, Europe, Asia, and beyond make their way to the event in Istanbul every year to seek new products and suppliers.
If you want to get your products seen by a huge audience, and expand your market presence in Turkey, join us at WorldFood Istanbul this year.
Book your stand here.
If you require extra information, don’t hesitate to contact our team and we'll be in touch.