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CIIE success spurs big rise in Turkish food exports to over $300m

China Daily | Updated: 2022-02-09 09:32
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A Unal Dried Nuts employee readies products for the fourth China International Import Expo at a production facility in Ankara, Turkey, in November. [Photo/Xinhua]

ISTANBUL-Chinese consumers' growing favor for Turkish food products has translated into an 86 percent increase in exports during most of 2021 following expos organized by China despite the COVID-19 pandemic, industry insiders said.

Turkey's food exports to China, one of its biggest export markets, saw a considerable jump of over $300 million in value in the first 10 months of 2021, according to data released by the Aegean Exporters' Association (EIB). The amount, though a modest sum in China's overall imports, is what Turkish producers are working hard to boost.

Turkey has set its sights on exporting $1 billion worth of food products to China over the next two years, according to the EIB, which includes Turkey's biggest fruit, vegetable, dairy, dried nut, and fisheries producers.

"We believe that the China International Import Expo editions held in 2020 and 2021, although partially virtual due to the pandemic, were crucial in introducing Turkish products," said Serap Unal, deputy secretary general of the EIB.

China is one of the target countries for the Turkish food industry, she said. Turkish enterprises highly value Chinese expos as they enhance the image of Turkish products among Chinese consumers.

Birol Celep, vice-president of the EIB, said the Turkish food sector sees China as a "strategic market" and wants to expand its product range in line with demands of Chinese consumers.

Omer Faruk Erbil, co-owner of Unal Dried Nuts in Turkey's capital of Ankara, is hopeful about the future of transactions with their Chinese counterparts. It took part in the CIIE for the first time when it was held in November last year.

"Dried fruits are loved by Chinese consumers as they are considered healthy snacks. We understand from the feedback we are getting from our representatives that our Chinese friends can't get enough of our pistachios for example," he said.

Dairy products are at the top of Turkey's exports to the Chinese market, and the main goods are cheese, whey products and milk powder.

"We have big ambitions and projections, and we want to maintain a permanent presence in this huge market with quality products," said Bedri Girit, chairman of the Aegean Fisheries and Animal Products Exporters' Association.

Girit called on Turkish dairy exporters to respect China's health requirements to ensure a sustainable market for the years to come. Relations between Turkey and China have improved significantly over the years in the economic, commerce, tourism, and transportation areas. China has made important investments in Turkey in the last decade.


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