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Turkish seafood swims towards success

The future of Turkish seafood is looking good. 2015 saw the nation export roughly $690 million worth of aqua products, despite seeing an 8% drop in the volume of exports. With revenue streams still remaining strong, the seafood sector is robust in Turkey and ripe for expansion.

Turkish seafood exports on the rise

Since the start of the new millennium, seafood and aquaculture production has increased essentially year-on-year. Turkey’s income from fish exports in 2000, for example, sat at around $69 million, according to Sinan Kiziltan, Chairman of the Aegean Aqua and Animal Products Exporters Association. By 2014 this figure had increased tenfold to hit a total of $692.4 million dollars. 
The sector is hoping this growth will continue into the next decade. By 2023, Mr Kiziltan is hoping that seafood exports will total $1.5 billion dollars. It should be noted that, due to the fact that the majority of exports go to European markets, the industry is affected by fluctuations in Euro-Dollar currencies but still remains strong. 

Changes in the Turkish seafood sector’s composition

Aquaculture is rising in prominence in the Turkish fisheries industry. Let’s look at a practical example. Data from the Turkish Statistical Institute stated that production of aqua products stood at 537,345 tons in 2014 (the most up to date data available at the time of writing). 
Of this total, aquaculture production contributed the largest share with 235 thousand tons. Sea fishes followed with 231 thousand tons with other sea fishes accounting for 35 thousand tons and inland water production standing at 31 thousand tons. 
The burgeoning market share for aquaculture production is part of a strategy put in place by the Turkish Seafood Promotion Committee (STG). According to STG’s Chairman, Melih Isliel, stated that production via aquaculture is targeted at reaching beyond 50% of the market by 2023. As it stands, aquaculture contributes 43.2%. 
“We seek the future of aqua products industry in the aquaculture businesses,” Mr Isliel said in an interview with FoodTurkey.com. “Turkey’s aquaculture production was about three thousand tons in 1986 and that reached up to 79 thousand tons in the year 2000 and a 43.8 % share now in total fishery production. Aquaculture reduces the pressure of fishing drive in waters and saves natural fish sources.”

New markets for Turkish seafood

Traditionally, the biggest market for Turkish seafood is in Europe. According to Mr Kiziltan, one in four sea breams and sea basses consumed in Europe is sourced from Turkish fisheries. However, due to numerous trade embargoes enacted by Russia, Turkey is keen to expand into new seafood markets.
Enter North America. According to Mr Kiziltan, seafood exports have increased to the USA over five times. In 2011, for example, Turkish seafood exports to the United States came to $5 million dollars, increasing to $24 million by 2015. This is partly due to Turkish Airways expanding its North American operations. As such, the Turkish Exporters Association is negotiating for cheaper air freight rates with Turkey’s national airline in order to capitalise on the potential the American market holds. 
Shipments of seafood to Canada are also dramatically increasing. Exports of fish and seafood related products exploded in 2014.
2013 saw, according to the Aegean Aqua and Animal Products Exporters Association, Turkish seafood exports to the Canadian market totalled 113,156 kilograms with a valuation of slightly over $544,000. A huge 72% increase in 2014 saw Canada purchase 116,067 kilos of Turkish aqua products which came close to breaking the million dollar mark as exports totalled $936,000. 

New marketing methods means more success

While representatives from STG and a wealth of other organisations representing Turkish fisheries attending trade fairs globally, such as WorldFood Moscow, the industry is trying other promotional techniques methods. Social media campaigns promotions and customer interaction is one of the key’s to Turkish seafood’s growing global competitiveness. 
“Social media has become a major tool for promotion, so, we engaged and increased our activities on several platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn,” explained Mr Kiziltan.

Turkish seafood enjoying strong currents

In closing, numerous factors are feeding into the worldwide success of Turkey’s numerous seafood producers. Growing export levels, new market opportunities and changes in the industry’s composition, plus updated marketing methods, are putting Turkish aqua products on the map. 
Will this success be sustainable? Only time can say. But growth has been very impressive over the past decade so Turkey could very well became a global player in the world of seafood in the coming years.


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