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5 reasons why Turkey is your next food market

Turkey is a nation seemingly purpose designed to produce food. Favourable geographic conditions means a huge variety of food products grow here – but there is always room for more. With a young, hungry and growing population, Turkey should be on the minds of every food producer, supplier or distributor. Here are five big reasons why. 

Turkey's confident food retailing sector

Turkey’s food retail sector is undergoing a period of what could be called modernisation – or at least Westernisation. As such, food sales have increased in recent years. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recorded that in 2014 food retail sales totalled $121 billion and held a 60% share of the total retail market. 
Mass grocery sales grew by 12.6% in 2015, according to BMI Research. Growth across the whole sector is anticipated by the USDA as averaging 8% during the period 2015-2018. Traditional food stores, open air bazaars and smaller shops called bakkals, are being overtaken by supermarkets spearheaded by chains such as BİM A.Ş and Migros Ticaret A.Ş. 

Food is big business in Turkey 

Food production will remain a crucial industry in Turkey for years to come. At present, the food and beverage industry accounts for 18.6% of the nation’s GDP. Turkey ranks highly in the agricultural production stakes – 7th overall in terms of global production. 
An internal population of over 76 million people means there are a lot of mouths to feed. The nation’s population is only expected to grow too. Turkey’s Statistics Institute (TÜİK) predicts that 84.2 million people will call the country home by 2023. In order to meet food demand, an increase in imports is expected. Food imports totalled $5.5 billion in 2014 – and will only grow alongside Turkey’s young population.

Changing consumer habits increase Turkish demand for packaged foods

As the supermarket format gains prominence, Turkey’s consumption habits appear to be shifting. A demand for fresh food, to be bought and consumed on the day, is declining. Frozen and packaged foodstuffs are thusly increasing in popularity. 
Taken frozen food for example. Revenues generated by this market reached $1 billion in 2014. From 2010 to 2014, the frozen food market grew at a rate of 4.7% annually. A consistent growth rate and strong sales certainly indicates Turkish consumers appetite for frozen produce is making positive movements.
Indeed, demand for packaged food as a whole is growing – leading to plenty of opportunities for exporters. According to Euromonitor, an international research company, the market grew alongside an 11% rise in urbanisation between 2009-2011. More and more of Turkey’s population is moving out of the countryside and into urban areas – reducing access to fresh food leading to an increase in demand for more readily available options. 
As a greater number of shopper move away from bakkals and traditional consumption behaviours, more opportunities for packaged and frozen food suppliers are opening up. A growing presence of women in the workplace is fuelling demand for pre-packaged goods as convience and time became greater interests for Turkish consumers.

Location, location, location: Turkey's geographical advantage

Turkey’s major advantage over other countries is its location. Straddling both Europe and Asia, the country acts as the perfect distribution hub. Central Asia, the Far and Middle East, plus North Africa, can are within a short journey’s distance.
What this means is Turkey can be utilised for food suppliers and distributors as a strong base to expand and deliver products to potentially billions of people. Sea, road and air routes all stem from Turkey to other important markets. 
A wealth of infrastructure products are currently away, including Istanbul New Airport. This will become the world’s largest airport once it opens in the spring of 2018 and will have the cargo facilities to match. Expanded port facilities, rail and road networks are also underway.
As well as offering a platform to reach many millions of Turkish consumers, Turkey makes an ideal natural locale for the distribution and trade of food products. 

Turkey’s tastes are changing

Changes in the country’s social-economic make up is leading to an increase in purchasing power. Tastes are changing to reflect this. As such, young Turks are enjoying a number of products that have been historically unpopular amongst elder generations. Often, these are goods that can only come through imports.
Mineral water, for example, is on the rise. Since 2010, the market for imported water has expanded from $34.3 million to $67.2 million according to the Harvard University’s Centre for International Development. 
Coffee is another surprising hit product – despite being Turkey’s national beverage. Caffe Carraro from Italy, Indian producers SLN Coffee and Greece’s GR Coffee all made strong connections and useful contacts at WorldFood Istanbul in 2015. Import data, again from Harvard, suggests that their optimism is well placed. Across 2010-2014, coffee import values nearly doubled, growing from $56 million to $104 million. 


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