Cherries from Turkey

With prudence and sensitivity:

At the start of this year’s cherry season in Turkey, Fruchthandel Magazine spoke to Gündüz Sadak, Managing Director KÖLLA Munich. Harvesting of the soft varieties, primarily intended for the domestic market, already started at the beginning of May. In the middle of the month, KÖLLA sent the first air freight consignments to China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, and refrigerated trucks with fresh goods will soon be on their way to European customers.


All in all, Gündüz Sadak is satisfied with the start of the season for Turkish cherries, especially in view of the very difficult international situation in cultivation and marketing due to the Corona pandemic. “At the start of the season we were able to achieve prices per kilo of over 50 euros for soft cherries in the Turkish market, but the price level has now returned to normal. I have received information from the regions that the harvest quantities and the quality of this early product were very respectable. We started harvesting the firm cherries in the middle of the month, and here too the quantity and quality reports are very promising. There has recently been more heavy rainfall, which has been very positive for the development of the fruit, as the trees have been able to absorb more water.

The recent calm weather is a clear advantage. Should the temperature in the current heat wave of up to 38 degrees Celsius rise even further, this could possibly have a negative effect on the quality of the cherries,” says Gündüz Sadak.

With regard to the corona pandemic, the branch is entering completely new territory, and the receptiveness of the markets is also more difficult to assess than probably ever before.

“In this particular situation, I have no experience whatsoever, there was simply nothing comparable before; and market developments are therefore not easy to assess. In view of the millions of people working part-time, including Germany, and the uncertain economic outlook, it will certainly be difficult or impossible for many consumers to maintain their accustomed level of consumption. It will therefore be a challenge to find a price level appropriate to the situation. Prudence and tact are required here.”


International markets

At the time of our conversation, cherries were harvested and packed for pallet-wise airfreight shipments to China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, flown to the target markets via Istanbul with Turkish Airlines. Within the framework of fixed delivery programs, the first truck transports to European customers are programmed for the beginning of week 23.

In contrast to many other countries, there are no problems in Turkey due to a lack of harvest workers, Sadak emphasises. Above all, because the farms throughout are very small the picking is done mainly by the families themselves. However, the greater impact of the corona crisis is felt in the packing stations, where, according to Sadak, hygiene and safety regulations are very strict and strictly observed. “There are markings all over the floor, which employees must strictly adhere to in order to ensure the necessary safety distance. Mouth and nose protection must be worn during working hours. If this is not the case during inspections, the company may have to close. In addition, the body temperature of the workers is measured several times a day.

Turkish fruit and vegetable exports have recently been able to benefit from the tense trade climate between the USA and China, which deteriorated further during the Corona crisis. Only recently, the Turkish state broadcaster TRT, referring to the Western Mediterranean Exporters Association, reported that more and more countries are choosing Turkey as a main supplier. As a result, value increases of more than 27% in the first quarter have been reported. These include Russia, India in the pome fruit sector and China, which is opening its market more and more for cherries from Turkey. For KÖLLA, too, the new situation has significantly improved the export opportunities, says Gündüz Sadak. “As long as these players cannot reach an agreement, there will definitely be a huge market for Turkish cherry exports. China will continue to use Turkey as a main origin, if only to be less reliant on other suppliers. I am confident to this.”

Quelle: Fruchthandel Ausgabe 21/22 2020; Autor: Michael Schotten