Although the excitement surrounding the Euro 2012 football competition was well below that for recent years because Turkey is not in this tournament, there is still a recovery in certain sectors’ sales. The sectors that obviously receive a boost from such tournaments -- sporting equipment, fast food and technology -- are now joined by sellers of dried fruit and nut products. As Turkish consumers traditionally buy dried fruit and nuts as part of getting into the mood for watching sports events -- particularly soccer -- they do not refrain from digging deep into their pockets to buy such products during the one-month marathon.
Many local and foreign brands have been making good profits due to a marketing blitz during the 2008 Euro championships in Turkey. The country’s national team made it to the final four that year, triggering a countrywide tournament-related shopping frenzy. A leading player in the dried fruit and nut sector, Papağan Kuruyemiş was one of the companies to profit. The company also managed to attract many Turkish consumers by stepping up sponsorship -- along with Coca-Cola -- for the 2010 FIFA World Cup held in Germany, home to a large Turkish population.
“We need to ramp up production during such events. This year’s tournament is likely to result in a 15 percent increase in sales for this June,” Papağan manager Kani Emekçi tells Sunday’s Zaman. Papağan posted a gain of 50 percent in sales last year over 2010, the best growth in its sector. The company finished 2010 with the same growth rate and expects a 40 percent jump this year. Looking at the overall sector performance, the Turkish dried fruit and nut industry grew by around 20 percent in 2011 over the preceding year, Turkish Dried Fruit and Nut Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association (TÜKSİAD) data reveal. Turkey remains one of the top consumers of dried fruit and nuts with 3.5 kilos consumed per person each year. Emekçi says there is potential in the market for more growth. “A huge share in the market still belongs to the unpacked products. We are expecting the markets to become m ore professional by using high-quality packaging methods that extend the life of dried fruit and nut products.” Papağan is tied for second place among the Turkish dried fruit and nut brands.
Sustainable growth through local production, exports
The company identifies itself as “the most innovative” firm in its sector and has set a target of introducing to the market at least three new brands each year. They have 42 different products in their portfolio and these are sold in 15 percent of approximately 200,000 sales points across Turkey. “We prefer growing via sales points rather than spending huge amounts on advertising. We want to grow facilitating the word of mouth with many diversified products,” Emekçi explains. He says the company takes products off the shelf six months before the expiry date, aiming to have the best quality and freshest products on the market.
The company sells products to 18 countries with the highest returns in Germany, Kosovo and Turkmenistan. Papağan’s exports reached a total volume of $2 million last year. Emekçi says they place importance on international fairs, which he sees as a gateway to new export markets. “As a member of the Turkish Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists [TUSKON] and the Turkish Exporters Assembly [TİM] we have participated in several fairs in various countries so far. …These helped us branch out into new export markets and we expect more to come,” he explains.
Turkish dried fruit and nut producers mostly export their products to European Union countries, which are traditionally identified as “ethno-marketing hubs” with a relatively higher Turkish immigrant population, as well as exporting to Central Asian and Middle Eastern countries that share similar food habits.
As regards an increase in imported dried fruit and nut products over the last few years, Emekçi says his company supports government incentives to encourage local production. “We [Papağan], for instance, import dry prunes from Chile. There are some products that cannot be found in Turkey; however, we always promote local production as much as possible.” The Ministry of Agriculture has embarked on an initiative to encourage farmers to plant walnuts and almonds and the company backs this idea, he continues. Emekçi recalls that the share of imported products in his sector increased to 5 percent from 1 percent over the past five years. He says market players have worked to establish an organized industrial zone (OSB) in the province of Kocaeli. “There will be around 300 food firms in this zone, promoting local production and exports. … Studies are currently under way,” he explains.