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Taking a look at the Turkish food service sector

While imported food often winds up in the hands of food processing companies or retailers, the food service sector still requires some vast quantities of produce. In Turkey, hotels, restaurants, cafes and the like generate $20 billion in revenue annually – making this a market that should not be overlooked by exporters.

Food service is a huge market in Turkey

With its multi-billion dollar valuation, Turkey’s hotels, restaurants and institutes (HRI) sector represents around 6% of the nation’s total food and drink market. There are over 3,800 hotels, 5,000 catering companies and over 150,000 restaurants and cafés in Turkey, alongside 360 shopping malls featuring food courts.
Istanbul accounts for a huge chunk of the HRI sector’s revenues – as much as 43% a year. 30% of the market’s revenue is generated in other large cities such as Bodrum, Antalya, Izmir, Bursa, and Ankara, with the remainder coming from the rest of Turkey as a whole.

Culture, lifestyle changes fuelling sector growth while tourism drops away

Tourism to Turkey, previously a major source of income for its food and beverage service sector, has dropped off in recent years. Political changes, alongside regional conflicts in neighbouring Syria, have put a dent in Turkish tourist numbers.

 But crucially, while the hotel sector is being hit hard, restaurants, fast food, and coffee houses are flourishing. There are a couple of reasons for this: namely societal changes and well-established cultural norms.

Dining together is one of the cornerstones of Turkish culture. Its seen as a form of socialisation that brings friends and families closer together. As such, eating out in groups is firmly ingrained in Turkish society.
More Turks are leading busier lifestyles, meaning they often do not have the time to prepare meals from scratch. While this does not seem to affect the sales of Turkey’s leading supermarkets, it does play right into the hands of restaurateurs and casual dining companies.
Likewise, more Turkish households have dual incomes. With couples and parents often too busy to sit down and cook up meals, it has led to a larger number of Turks preferring to eat out or order takeaways.
Institutional organisations, such as offices, schools, the military, and hospitals remain essentially unaffected by the drop off in tourist numbers too, and retain a market share worth around $5.6 billion.
Meal tickets and vouchers play a big role in institutional catering, with regulations suggesting employees involved in such schemes can receive around $4 a day to pay for company-provided food. Turkey’s labour force constitutes 29 million people, so that is a lot of mouths to feed.

Fast food, coffee shops emerging as HRI market forces in Turkey

Turkey is seeing more convenience food outlets and coffee shops pop up around the country, with the growing at a compound annual growth rate of 17% since the start of the decade, making it one of Turkey’s fastest growing food industries.

At present, 45% of Turkey’s fast food restaurants are found in Istanbul, but major chains like McDonald’s, Burger King, and KFC are seeing the potential in other Turkish cities. Its these US-owned chains which dominate the market, although Turkish brands are emerging and serve up a variety of traditional dishes given contemporary twists to make them easier to eat on the go.
Turkey’s leading fast food and coffee shop companies, ranked by sales, type of cuisine,  and number of outlets (2015’s figures), are listed below:

•Tab Gida (owns Burger King, Popeye’s, Sbarro, Usta Donerci, Arbys) – Fast Food – 940 Outlets - $590 million sales
•Khave Dunyasi (Altinmarka Group) – Coffee shop – 160 outlets - $480 million sales (Altinmarkar group total sales)
•McDonald’s – Fast Food – 262 outlets - $195 million sales
•Domino’s Pizza – Fast Food – 600 outlets - $142 million sales
•Simit Sarayi – Fast Food (Turkish cuisine) - $139 million sales

Over half of Turkey’s 78 million population is aged under 30. The nation’s youth is more open to purchasing and eating fast food, compared with elder generations, and spearheading this industry’s impressive growth. Students, in particular, are hefty consumers of fast food in Turkey.

Specialist goods imported by Turkish food service sector

Turkey, particularly Istanbul, has been a meeting point for different cultures for thousands of years, blending ideas, cultures, and cuisines together. Turkish palettes are therefore sophisticated and adventurous, and this is reflected in the abundance of tastes available in restaurants across the country.
Thai, Tex-Mex, Chinese, and Japanese foods are all en vogue in Turkey – meaning importers have to look overseas to source speciality ingredients, with some select products scoring big wins on Turkish import markets.

Getting your products to the food service industry depends on the nature of the company, but general market entry relies on contacting a broker or importer directly. These act as agents for retailers or distributors, who in turn supply food and beverage products to the HRI sector.

TUGIDER (the Association of Food Importers) and DEIK (Foreign Economic Relations Board) are involved in international trade servicing. Representing 148 companies, the majority of which are importers, TUGIDER should be the number one contact for foreign firms hoping to make headway into Turkey.

Meet the Turkish food service sector at WorldFood Istanbul

As hotels, restaurants, and other food service organisations, do not import products directly, it is best to establish strong links with the importers, distributors, and agents who really matter. WorldFood Istanbul lets you do this at one event in one location.

As Turkey’s leading food and drink trade show, the event attracts the major players of the Turkish food industry, including HRI sector members. Over 13,000 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.

Interested in taking part in 2017’s show? WorldFood Istanbul runs between 7-10 September this year at the TUYAP Fair and Exhibition Centre in Istanbul. If you would like to be there, or to discuss how you can take part, contact our team today.

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