Turkey’s top food & drink import products and where they come from

Turkey imports $5 billion worth of food & drink a year - but what is it actually importing?

Turkey, thanks to its growing population and expanding economy, is moving from a net exporter of food to an importer. That means the import market, currently totalling roughly $5 billion annually, is expected to grow over the coming years.
For exporters, that’s great news. WorldFood Istanbul will put you in touch with the food and drink players hunting for supplies of these items – so read on to find out what foodstuffs Turkish food and drink players are importing right now (data from the United States Department of Agriculture).

Turkey’s top 5 food & drink import categories

Fish & seafood - $172m
In 2016, Norway’s Nofima, a fisheries, aquaculture, and seafood research body, said that Turkey is one of the markets to watch for exporters. Turks have a healthy appetite for the sea’s bounty, and consumption is growing as the population turns to seafood as a healthier alternative to meat.
In 2016, Turkey imported fish and seafood products worth $172 million, with salmon as the top individual variety. Norway is the country’s chief seafood supplier, accounting for 27.32% of total imports. Morocco follows with an 18.45% import share, while Spain claims third place with a 9.19% of Turkey’s fish import market.
Processed fruits & veg - $134.5m
Turkey is a massive agricultural producer – but very few nations are self-sufficient in fruit and vegetable output. In Turkey’s case, it’s niche products sourced from Europe, or exotic fare from further afield in Asia, that tempts importers and fill market gaps.
The USDA reports that processed fruit and veg, with 52% of shipments coming from Thailand, was worth $134.5m for exporters in 2016. Thailand is by far and away the biggest supplier of these products. Hungary, which holds the second largest supply share, covers just 5% of total volumes.
Snack foods - $134.4m
Snacks are big business in Turkey, with imports totalling over $130m annually. Foreign brands are well loved here too. Just look at the potato chips sector. Frito-Lay and Pringles, two American varieties, control over 90% of the market.
So where does Turkey turn to when it’s time to sample some snacks? Given its chip brand’s dominance, the US surprisingly isn’t Turkey’s number one snack merchant. European producers hold that honour. The top three snack exporting countries are:
• Germany – 32%
• The Netherlands – 12%
• Italy – 10.5%
Milk & dairy - $90m
By importing nearly 40,000 tons of milk and dairy products in 2016, Turkey showed that it still has a healthy taste for internationally-sourced cheeses, butters, and other such products. This came after domestic efforts to ramp up cheese product increased the volumes of Turkish cheese available to consumers.
Ireland and New Zealand together represent 36.5% of imports, but what are they exporting? For New Zealand, butter is its chief dairy product in Turkey. Ireland mainly exports butter and cheese, with cheddar being its most in demand cheese type amongst Turks.
Beef - $45 million
Inconsistent government policies and rising domestic feed prices means Turkey’s red meat output is fairly erratic. Faruk Çelik, Turkish Minister of Food, Agriculture, and Livestock, says Turkey is facing a red met deficit of between 150,000 to 200,000 tons a year, so imports are scheduled to bump up.
While Russia and Turkey are negotiating for the resumption of their mutual meat trade, Bosnia & Herzegovina has been the individual largest beef exporter to Turkey in recent years. In 2016, for instance, it shipped $45 million, just over 6,000 tons’ worth.
Other growing sectors
Turkey imports billions of dollars of food and drink items annually, so the above does not represent the entire make up of Turkish import manifests. There are several exciting sectors that are quickly emerging as groups with great export potential to Turkey for international producers.
Included are dry nuts, baked goods, and chocolate. You can find out more information these up and coming food and drink favourites here.

Meet Turkey’s food & drink importers at WorldFood Istanbul

Now you know what Turkish customers want, it’s time to meet them. There’s only one place to do that: Turkey’s leading international food and drink exhibition WorldFood Istanbul.
WorldFood Istanbul is the largest and most successful food and food processing exhibition in Turkey, attracting over 13,000 professional visitors each year. 
The event is the perfect platform to get your products in front of a dedicated audience of food and drink buyers, including distributors, retail representatives and HORECA sector members.