Turkey is one of the unique countries in the world for agricultural production and the Turkey’s matchless superiority with respect to agricultural production allows her to produce many agricultural products. Except for some tropical products, almost every kind of agricultural product can be produced on a large scale in Turkey.
Dried fruits are one of Turkey’s major agricultural sectors and Turkey is the most important country in the world with respect to both the production and export of dried fruits. Turkish dried fruits production and exports are extremely high and dominate world markets.
Among the Turkish Dried Fruits produced in Turkey, raisins (sultanas), dried apricots and dried figs have the lion’s share. Because of their major importance for agricultural exports, they are regarded as traditional Turkish agricultural export items.
Turkey also produces and exports other kinds of dried fruits such as prunes, currants, dried apples, dried pears, dried mulberries, dried peaches etc. Dried Fruits, Nutrition and Health Grapes, figs and apricots are miracles from the standpoint of their composition and have been accepted as sacred fruits throughout history.
Turkish Dried Fruits are called nature’s candy and they are one of the most nutritious foods in the world. They are cholesterol free, rich in vitamins and minerals, and totally fat free. Dried fruits are a good source of fiber and rich in antioxidants. Dried fruits are invaluable for human health and provide consumers many advantages with respect to nourishment.
Turkish Dried Fruits, with many of the major vitamins and minerals in their composition, are found to be useful in many functions of the human body. Consumption Forms of Dried Fruits Dried fruits are widely used in the food sector as well as being consumed as a snack.
Some consumption forms of dried fruits are as follows:
Raisins are an indispensable ingredient in breads, cakes, cookies, pies, tarts and different pastries in the bakery sector. They are an excellent addition to a wide range of candies, puddings and other wonderful confectioneries.
Dried apricots are mostly consumed directly as a snack after being graded and may be mixed with other fruits. It is also used in bakery products, in the production of chocolate and candies, and as an ingredient in the preparation of some special sweets, like paste.
Dried figs are consumed in international cuisines in many different forms including in pies, puddings, cakes, bread or other bakery products after being stewed or cooked; In jams, marmalades or in many sugar and confectionery products as a delicious ingredient.
Raisins (Sultanas) Turkey has 1200 different types of fresh grapes and has been among the five major producers of grapes throughout the world with an annual average production of about 4 million tons. Among these varieties, seedless “Yuvarlak and Sultani” are the main varieties used for raisins.
Seedless raisins are grown especially in the Aegean Region of Turkey, which is blessed with some of the most fertile land in the world, plenty of sunshine and abundant water supplies. The original name of the famous seedless Turkish raisins, “Sultana, Sultanna, Sultanine”, comes from the fact that they were served at the Ottoman Sultans’ magnificent tables during the times of the Ottoman Empire.
About 60% of the total production in this region is seedless. Depending on foreign demand, the tendency in Turkey is towards more production without reducing quality. This has been realized by both increasing viticulture areas throughout the country and utilizing modern viticulture techniques to increase the yield.
Raisin production in Turkey totaled 270 thousand tons in 2017, and with this figure, Turkey accounts for nearly 22% of total world raisin production.
Table 1: World Raisin Production by Countries (Tons)
Turkey is at the top of the fresh and dried apricot producing countries with approximately 730 thousand tons of fresh and 103 thousand tons of dried apricot production in 2016. Turkey alone meets nearly 20% of the fresh apricot production and nearly 61% of the dried apricot production in the world. In 2017 Turkey alone meets nearly 68% of the dried apricot production in the world with 145 thousand tons of production.
Table 2: World Dried Apricot Production By Countries (Tons)
Apricot cultivation, which is spread across most of the agricultural regions of Turkey, finds its best environment in the Central Eastern Anatolian Region where nearly half of the crops are produced. Due to the ecology of the province, apricots from Malatya have gained economic value in the form of dried apricots for years.
Almost all of the fresh crop in this district is subject to the drying process and nearly 90-95% of the dried apricots produced, is exported. The most important varieties, according to the quantity produced, are “HACIHALILOGLU”, “SOGANCI”, “KABAASI” and “CATALOGLU”.
Although dried fig production may fluctuate between 60-75 thousand tons according to annual climatic conditions, Turkey ranks as the world’s largest supplier of fresh and dried figs. Turkey realizes 24% of the world’s fresh fig production and more than half of the world’s dried fig production.
Table 3: World Dried Fig Production By Countries (Tons)
Although different types of fig varieties are grown throughout Turkey, the “Sari lop” variety with its large size, sweet, fleshy, light colored character and soft skin is the main variety for dried figs. This variety, which is preferred by most of the world’s countries for its quality, is produced only in the river basins of the Menderes Rivers in the Aegean Region.
Fig production is realized principally in Aydin and Izmir provinces over a large area and generally is a family run business, as it requires human labor in the field when collecting the figs from trees, selecting, sorting, screening and further processing the figs into different forms. After processing, figs acquire export names such as “layer”, “protoben”, “pulled”, “lerida”, “locum”, “garland”, “macaroni”, “baglama”, “cukulata”, and “umbrella” based on their shapes.
Drying improves both storage life and the food value of the fig. Fresh figs contain 80% water and 12% sugar, however, when dried, the sugar content rises to 50%. Turkish dried fruits are grown under natural conditions, harvested and dried under controlled conditions. They are graded, stored and packaged and packed in hygienic conditions following the strict rules of internationally accepted quality control systems.
Regarding the safety of production, before being processed in the factories Turkish Dried Fruits are subject only to scientific and international treatments. In Turkey, organic farming, which started in 1985, has shown a tremendous progress and the dried fruits sector was the pioneer. Dried fruits still hold an important share among organic agricultural products and today 45% of the organic farmers are in the dried fruit business.
Nearly 15% of dried apricots, more than 5% of raisins and around 20% of dried figs are produced by organic methods. The demand for organic fruits comes primarily from abroad (especially the EU and other western countries) and organic production is increasing in Turkey based on the demand of both domestic and foreign markets.
Dried fruits are among Turkey’s traditional agricultural export products. Turkey is the most important dried fruit exporter in the world. In terms of quantity nearly 25% of world dried fruit exports come from Turkey. The export figures of dried fruits both in terms of quantity and value, generally has shown an upward trend annually.
Table 4: Turkish Dried Fruits Exports
Turkey exports dried fruits to the five continents of the world and to more than 130 countries. Nearly 60% of the exports are directed to European Union Countries. 45% of exports were directed to 4 countries, namely UK, Germany, France and the USA in 2017. Apart from the EU countries; the USA, Australia, Canada and Russian Federation are the other important destinations for Turkish dried fruits.
Table 5: Turkey’s Raisin Exports By Countries
Turkish dried figs are the favorite items for Christmas in the Christian world. Also, they are keenly sought after by Muslims especially during Ramadan as well as during the periods of traditional American and Jewish holidays.
Table 6: Turkey’s Dried Apricot Exports By Countries
It is expected that, as their nutritional and medicinal value is understood, Turkish Dried Fruits exports will hopefully increase further in the future. Before exportation, Turkish Dried Fruits go through sophisticated laser sorters to avoid any foreign elements. Table picking is performed by skilled quality control technicians depending on buyers’ specifications.
Strict standards are applied to ensure each box of Turkish Dried Fruits is free of mold, pests and other imperfections. Thus, Turkish dried fruits, today, are known for supreme quality and utmost cleanliness in international markets.
Table 7: Turkey’s Dried Fig Exports By Countries
Today, most of the Turkish Dried Fruits exporter companies have been awarded the ISO and HACCP system certificates. In addition, the province of Izmir, located on the Aegean region, is the main export area for Turkish dried fruits, in which the largest dried fruit processing and exporting companies in Turkey have been established.
- Istanbul Exporters’ Association
- Aegean Exporters’ Association
- Southeast Anatolian Exporters Unions
- Creating Demands for Turkish Dried Fruits