Rapid Growth of Blueberry Production in Turkey on High Profitability and Trade Potential

Published Apr 13, 2023
Blueberry cultivation in Türkiye is a very new sector with great potential. The area dedicated to this crop has doubled annually in recent years due to the higher profitability of blueberries compared to other products. Since prices for blueberries are high in the global market, it has resulted in great profitability for Turkish farmers that have engaged in the cultivation of the crop. Due to the favorable climate and investment subsidies that have encouraged the rapid increase in production, Türkiye has every chance to become a major player in the growing global blueberry market.

According to the Turkish Statistical Institute, the total blueberry cultivation area in Türkiye was 100 hectares in 2019. In 2020, it was 200 hectares, and in 2021, the total blueberry planted area was registered at about 400 hectares. By 2022, there were already 660 hectares of blueberry plantations in the country. Therefore, the area dedicated to the blueberry crop has doubled since 2019. The better return of blueberries compared to other products, as well as investment subsidies, encouraged the rapid increase in production.

Among fruits, berry fruits, including grapes, have a share of 25% of total fruit production in Türkiye. The most important berry fruit in terms of production after grapes are strawberry, which average annual production was 200 thousand mt in 2021. Followed by mulberry with an annual production of 70 thousand mt, then raspberry and blackberry with 30 thousand mt, and then blueberry with an approximate production of 5 thousand mt in 2021. Although blueberry production is relatively new in Türkiye, among the berries, it has had the largest growth in dedicated planting areas in the country.

There are several reasons for the rapid increase in blueberry production in the country. The first one would be the favorable weather conditions that allow harvesting over a much longer period. Blueberry picking in Türkiye begins in winter in the south of the country and continues until September in the north of the country. The second reason would be the higher profitability that blueberry plantations bring due to their increasing demand in main importing high-income markets such as Europe. Due to the high blueberry prices that rising demand has brought, investment subsidies for blueberry production in Türkiye have been granted.

Only the North Eastern part of the Black Sea region has suitable soil requirements for blueberry production in Turkey. However, due to investment subsidies, farmers have been able to grow in pots by using special substrates that make it possible to produce berry fruits in many different regions. The adopted use of this method has contributed to the rapid increase in blueberry production in the Mediterranean and the Aegean regions like Antalya, Kutahya, and Afyon.

Another important factor for Türkiye to become an important supplier to the global blueberry market is the geopolitical position of the country. Turkey's largest export market for fresh fruits and vegetables is Russia. However, for blueberries, exports have suddenly reached other distinctive importing markets, such as Austria and Germany in Europe and the United Arabe Emirate and Bahrain in Asia. Particularly, in recent years, fresh fruit Turkish exports have increased volumes in the Asian market. Turkish berries, including blueberries, could be shipped to many regions by air due to their value in main importing consuming markets.

Source: Tridge, ITC

Turkish exported volume of blueberries reached a new record in 2022 by reaching an estimated 416 mt. Since 2021, exports suddenly increased exponentially, going from 110 mt to 326 mt, a 200% YoY increase. The sudden increase was largely driven by the increased exports to Germany and Austria, as both countries started to import a larger amount of Turkish berries in 2021 due to rising demand for berries in the region.

There is undoubtedly serious potential for Turkish blueberry exports. Major importing markets such as the UK, the Netherlands, and the US are potential buyers of Turkish blueberry production. Furthermore, production cost in Türkiye has proven to be very competitive against producers in the region, which means Turkish blueberries are able to reach the European market at a very competitive price. 

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