Where do Turks buy their food & drink?

Any country with food & drink imports totalling in the billions usually has a strong food retail sector. Turkey certainly does.

This nation of nearly 80m people is currently in the middle of a retail transformation. Traditional outlets are losing ground to westernised market models, and grocery sales are rising annually alongside this.

Knowing the big players driving this revolution will give you an indication of the businesses you should be dealing with if you want your products to enter Turkey. Let’s find out who they are.

Food retail in Turkey

Food & drink account for over half of all Turkish retail sales

In 2017, Turks collectively spent $152.8bn on shopping. That figure includes all retail sales throughout the country. 

Of that spending, $83.8bn went towards food & drink shopping. That’s 55% of overall Turkish retail sales.

As you can see, food & drink is very big business in Turkey. 

That said, Turkey is actually a very price sensitive market. Currently, inflation is an important factor in determining retail sales, as prices are fluctuating throughout Turkey. As such, Turks are currently preferring hard discounters and wholesalers when it comes to selecting supermarket chains.

As it stands, however, roughly 23% of Turks’ annual incomes is spent on grocery shopping.

Western supermarket models move into Turkey

Traditional retail outlets are being replaced by Western-style supermarkets across Turkey.

In Turkey’s major population centres, old school markets and bazars are giving way to supermarkets, hypermarkets and grocery stores.
In the large cities, like Istanbul, Izmir and Ankara, Turks are starting to shop in these style stores more often. Indeed, it’s the super and hypermarket chains where imported and gourmet products are sold, alongside specialised high-end outlets.

However, in smaller towns and villages, the traditional bakkal small village shops and Pazar street markets still hold sway. There’s a 50/50 split between historical retail methods and the new, Western-inspired models deployed by the biggest supermarket chains.

It’s predicted that, by 2021, the ratio of traditional outlets to new super and hypermarkets will sit at around 43%/57% in favour of modern retailers.

Between them, the top 10 Turkish supermarket chains control 23,428 stores, with more opening year-on-year.

The top five Turkish supermarket retailers

Below, we’ve quickly profiled the top five Turkish supermarket chains. Together, they represent over $15bn in retail spending. It’s these companies that are major importers, or work with specialist wholesalers, and often represent a great way to enter the Turkish market for international food & drink producers.

Turkey’s top five supermarket chains (as of 2017) are:

Market share: 7.5%
Annual sales: $6.24bn
No. of stores: 6,065


Market share: 5.4%
Annual sales: $4.28bn
No. of stores: 2,090


Market share: 4.1%
Annual sales: $3.71bn
No. of stores: 7,084


Market share: 3.4%
Annual sales: $2.84bn
No. of stores: 6,364

Carrefour SA

Market share: 1.3%
Annual sales: $1.12bn
No. of stores: 582

How can you reach Turkey's retail buyers?

Generally, Turkish retailers rely on agents acting on their behalf. Agents are often specialist importers, food & drink wholesalers, commission-based traders, or a mixture of thereof. 

Locally-based representatives have intricate knowledge of domestic market conditions, as well as contact information for procurement departments of the big supermarket chains. 

In some cases, retailers will import products directly. These tend to be high-turnover products. In general, however, they will tend to stick with their agents. That said, plenty of representatives of Turkey’s top chains are at WorldFood Istanbul in droves, getting hands on with the latest products and meet their manufacturers at one place at one time.

A world of food at your fingertips at Turkey’s largest food & drink exhibition WorldFood Istanbul

As Turkey’s leading food and drink trade show, WorldFood Istanbul attracts the major players of the Turkish food industry, including buyers from across Turkey, including coffee chain owners, other HoReCa sector members, retailers, supermarket chains, and further important buyers.

Over 16,000 visitors from Turkey, the Middle East, Europe, and beyond, attended last year’s show – all looking to find the very best partners and products to expand their operations.

Boost your sales in this thriving geography by booking your stand here.

Need any extra info? Contact us today.