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Turkish-Russian food trade normalisation is closer than ever

Relations between Russia and Turkey’s appear to be on the mend. This is great news for Turkish producers, as Russia has historically been one of Turkey’s biggest food trading partners.

A gradual renormalisation of relations between the two countries has been occurring throughout 2016. Food imports from Turkey were banned by Russia after a Turkish fighter jet shot down a Russian plane above Syria in November 2015. Turkish President Erdogan apologised for the Incident in August 2016, paving the way for renewed food activity from both states.

More Turkish fruits & vegetables 

Since President Erdogan’s apology, Russian orders of Turkish produce have increased. Following September 2016’s edition of WorldFood Moscow, which played its own part in re-establishing trade norms between Russia and Turkey, more Russian orders of fruits and vegetables have been witnessed by Turkish producers.

Turkish oranges, tangerines, apricots, plums and peaches, plus other fruits and vegetables varieties, have been cleared for export by Russia’s food safety authority Rosselkhoznadzor. Export levels, compared with 2015’s volumes, have even increased for certain products.

Turkish shipments of tangerines to Russia have grown 41% in volume compared with the period October-November 2015, to hit 90,211 tons. Orange exports increased 27% for a total of 26,000 tons. Tangerines alone have netted Turkey $44 million in revenues during the review period. 

According to Rostat data from last year, combined orange and tangerine shipments for the period October-November jointly amounted to $43 million. 

Five further Turkish agriproducts, including aubergines, courgettes, peppers and lettuce, are ready for export resumption. Apples, grapes, strawberries and pears remain under sanctions.

Turkish meat back on the menu for Russians

Despite much of the focus being on agricultural products, Russia also instigated a ban on Turkish meat imports and halted all exports of Russian meat to Turkey. 

Russian Minister of Agriculture Alexandr Tkachev and his Turkish counterpart Faruk Çelik discussed sanctions on Turkish produce, and the opening of Turkish markets to Russian meat, at the World Grain Forum in Sochi, Russia, during November 2016. 

“Restrictions on meat imports should be de facto lifted once Russian specialists have finalised their inspections in Turkish facilities,” Mr Tkachev said at the Forum. 

Russia’s export ban has left Turkey with a red meat deficit of 150,000-200,000 tons. The nation has subsequently had to secure beef supplies from countries such as Brazil and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Mr Çelik stated Turkey could replace these imports with Russian shipments amounting to as much as 50,000 tons annually. 

Meanwhile, Turkey is seeking resume its Russian poultry exports. Thanks to highly restrictive import taxes, breaking into the Russian poultry sector is currently exceedingly difficult for Turkish companies. Poultry also remains under embargo. Prior to the food ban, Turkey was shipping between 15,000-20,000 tons of poultry meat annually to Russia. 

According to Julia Melano, Rosselkhoznadzor’s Press-Secretary, Russian inspectors had travelled to Turkish facilities in November 2016. A final export approval decision, based on their findings, is set to made shortly. 

Full food reconciliation on the horizon

This continuing odyssey of bans and counter-bans has been one of the most devastating blows for the Turkish food industry in recent memory. However, it looks as if the dark times are behind for both Russia and Turkey.

Once everything is back to normal, remember to head to WorldFood Moscow or WorldFood Istanbul to get the inside scoop on both country’s food sectors, make vital business connections and get your products into two of the world’s largest food markets.


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