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Pasta Market in Turkey

01 August 20197 min reading

There are 24 producers operating in the Turkish pasta sector, an industry with a size of $1 billion. Turkey’s production and exports are in a prominent position in the pasta industry that is growing every year domestically. Pasta producers operating in close areas to the raw material sources provide direct and indirect employment to 40,000 people. Despite the unfair trade quota practices imposed by the EU countries, Turkey ranked second after Italy in exports. In recent years, pasta, which has become a preferred product outside the home, is showing an increase also in domestic consumption figures. In consumption, Turkey climbed from 18th to 8th place. Per capita consumption is 8 kilograms.

Turkey continues to strengthen its position in the world pasta market. The pasta sector, which has renewed itself to a great extent in the last 10 years, uses the latest technology in production. Turkish pasta sector is leading the competition with other countries in terms of quality and price. Located on the Mesopotamia region, the main production center of durum wheat and devoting 49 percent of its agricultural land to wheat, Turkey is increasing its weight in the pasta industry every day.

Pasta, which can adapt to different cultures in many ways, has the capacity to meet the basic requirements of nutrition. It is also a food that can enhance the most wanted experiments in the kitchen. For this reason, pasta is very popular and consumed all over the world.

Turkey is quite a good position in flour, pasta and bulgur sectors in the world. It is the world leader in flour and bulgur production and export; third in the world in pasta production. It ranks second after Italy in pasta exports. The only hurdle in Turkey’s aim to be the first largest pasta exporter in the world is the quota imposed by the European Union. Turkey’s export volume to European Union countries is limited by 20 thousand tons in a year. Due to this 20-ton quota, Italian companies dominate the European market. When sales towards the EU are excluded, Turkey is the world market leader in the pasta exports, overtaking its competitor Italy. While being one of the biggest countries in pasta production and export, Turkey also ranks 8th in the world in pasta consumption. The annual pasta consumption per person exceeds 8 kilograms and it is aimed to increase it to 10 kilograms.

EXPORT TO 160 COUNTRIES Many countries meet their pasta needs with domestic production. A small number of countries, including Turkey, produce more pasta than the domestic market needs and sells this excess product abroad. Turkey exports pasta to nearly 160 countries. Leading names in the industry state that durum wheat, the raw material of the pasta, is of very high quality in Turkey and it can be the world’s largest pasta exporter if local wheat used more in production.

The Turkish pasta industry has an export network extending from Africa to Japan, Iraq and Venezuela. Turkish pasta producers are making great efforts to expand the market and increase the quantity of products sold. However, the recent tension with Baghdad government has brought the sector to the point of losing the whole Iraqi market.

Due to drought and poverty, African countries, whose food needs are mostly supported by global aid organizations, consume a lot of pasta because of its long-term storage and reasonable prices. Like many foodstuffs used in the continent where poverty prevails, pasta is mostly provided by Turkish companies. Africa’s share in Turkey’s pasta exports is 68 percent.

THERE IS A 24 MAJOR MANUFACTURERS The Turkish pasta sector, represented by two major associations, managed to have a corner in the market with its 24 major producers. Increasing its exports every passing day, Turkish pasta sector sold 831 thousand tons of products to the world market in 2016 and earned 422 million dollars. In 2017, the sector exported 1 million 55 thousand tons of products and got 490 million dollars. The sector closed 2018 with 1 million 208 thousand tons of sales and 561 million dollars. And in the first 5 months of 2019, despite all the problems, the sector increased its export figures compared to the same period of the previous year. Turkish pasta producers have also enjoyed strong external demand for their products this year as their exports rose 9 percent to $255 million in the first five months of 2019. In the January-May period, Turkish pasta exports in terms of volume also exhibited a 7 percent increase on an annual basis to reach 538, 824 tons.

Bad news came from Iraq to the Turkish pasta sector, which exports to more than 160 countries. Iraq, which banned the import of eggs in May and beverages and ice cream imports in June, has issued a communiqué on the prohibition of table salt, noodle varieties and pasta imports from Turkey in July. The decision of the Iraqi Council of Ministers will take effect after 60 days and will remain in force for a year. Abdülkadir Külahçıoğlu, the Chairman of Pasta Industrialists Association of Turkey, stated that pasta exports to Iraq stopped completely with Baghdad’s decision, listing the reasons for the decision as the tense political relations between Turkey and Iraq and the efforts to expand domestic production with the pasta factories established in the country.

According to the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) data, Turkey has exported 78 thousand 200 tons of pasta to Iraq and earned 32.7 million dollars in 2018. Being among the top ten destinations of Turkish pasta, Iraq imported 29,000 tons of Turkish pasta worth $ 11.5 million in the first five months of this year. Iraq’s import ban will adversely affect Turkish pasta exporters in the Southeastern Anatolia region, particularly in Gaziantep.

Stating that they follow the matter closely, the Chairman of Pasta Industrialists Association of Turkey Mr. Külahçıoğlu said 68 percent of pasta exports goes to the African countries. According to Külahçıoğlu, the Iraqi ban is a result of tense political relations between Turkey and Iraq and Baghdad’s ongoing efforts to develop domestic production of pasta with newly established plants in the country.

[caption id="attachment_2491" align="alignleft" width="300"] Chairman of Pasta Industrialists Association of Turkey Mr. Abdülkadir Külahçıoğlu[/caption]

Mr. Külahçıoğu made the following statements on the Bagdad’s ban decision: “The decision seems temporary. However, once you go out, it is very difficult to enter the shelves again. The Iraqi market will surely be dominated by others. Probably it would be Iran. Turkey’s share in Iraq’s pasta imports is 68 percent. We are the market leader in Iraq. After that ban, this leadership will be completely gone. Iraq is the 5th biggest market for us. Therefore, this decision will affect our sector very badly and will hurt the sector.

As an association, we make initiatives before the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Trade. However, this is an issue that must be solved by political initiatives because we have limited capabilities. Unfortunately, we have heard that Iraq will gradually expand this ban to cover all imports of processed agricultural products. Therefore, the necessary measures should be taken before it is too late. This ban will affect not only the pasta producers but also the transporters, farmers and thousands of people. This problem can create a serious employment problem in the region. We see this as an issue that needs to be addressed urgently.

On the other hand, Turkey imported 428 thousand tons of durum wheat in the first 5 months of this year. We imported from Canada, Kazakhstan, Russia and Mexico. In addition to that, I expect 300 thousand tons of durum wheat to be imported by the end of the year. Therefore, Turkey will import more than 700 thousand tons of durum wheat in 2019. Durum wheat is not used for the domestic market but rather for use in export products. The domestic market does not need imports.

We are the second-largest country in the world pasta export. Our sector needs durum wheat for production. We export to 160 countries. With the encouragement of our state, if our farmers turn to durum wheat production, we would like to buy the wheat we need from the domestic producer. We want the money paid for 700 thousand tons of imported wheat not to go abroad but to remain in the country. It would be nice if this money goes into our farmer’s pocket.”

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