Will Europe’s tomato demand be an opportunity or a nightmare?

Tomatoes are worth it. A new discussion started in tomato with the demand from Europe. In this regard, the country was divided into two. There are also those who say, “There is no need for export, our own citizens should eat tomatoes at affordable prices”. Some say, “Export is very important, we need to meet the demand of Europe and expand the export markets and earn the foreign exchange that the country needs”.

Agriculture According to the data published by the Agricultural Economy and Policy Development Institute of the Ministry of Forestry and Forestry, world tomato production in 2021 is 185 million tons. Turkey ranks third in tomato production after China and India.

Turkey’s tomato production is around 13 million tons on average. Approximately 4.5 million tons of this production is industrial type tomatoes, the majority of which is used in tomato paste production. Tomato consumption is around 9.5-10 million tons on average. Turkey’s total tomato export is estimated to be around 2 million tons. Turkey exports tomatoes and their products to 122 countries. It ranks 5th in world tomato exports with a 7 percent export share.

Tomato exports increase

According to the data of the Aegean Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Exporters’ Association, a total of 729 million dollars of tomato and tomato products were exported in 2021. 363 million dollars of this export is fresh, that is, table tomatoes. In the same period, tomato paste export is 208 million dollars, dried tomato exports are 97.3 million dollars, frozen tomato exports are 39 million dollars. While exports of sauce and ketchup were 17 million dollars, peeled tomato exports were 2.7 million dollars and tomato juice exports were 2 million dollars.

When we look at the export of table tomatoes in detail, according to the data of the Mediterranean Exporters’ Association (AKİB), Turkey exported 522 thousand 505 tons of tomatoes in 2020 and 313 million 241 thousand dollars. foreign currency provided input. In 2021, tomato exports reached 622 thousand tons with an increase of 19 percent in quantity. The foreign currency obtained increased by 16 percent to 363 million 245 thousand dollars.

In the first 8 months of this year, tomato export was 331 thousand tons, while the export income was 262 million 447 thousand dollars.

Prevention on tomato paste and canned food exports

With the communiqué published in the Official Gazette dated 7 September 2022 by the Ministry of Commerce, canned tomatoes and tomato paste were included in the “List of Goods for Export”. The Communiqué briefly stated: “Tomatoes (prepared or canned by methods other than vinegar or acetic acid) – Others: (GTP: 2002.90) (Paste) has been added to the list of goods subject to registration.”

Processes such as being included in the list of “goods that make export registration” take effect, such as controlling the export of that product, restricting it, slowing it down, and obtaining permission from the ministry. There were even those who thought that a restriction or ban was imposed on tomato exports when the word “tomatoes” was written in the Communiqué. In this direction in the media news output. As a result, there was a public reaction.

Upon the reactions, the Ministry of Commerce had to make a statement twice during the day. On the same day, the ministry announced that necessary decisions regarding exports would be taken immediately, and a few hours later, it made a statement that “we did nothing, there is no prohibition, no restriction, no need to be subject to the permission of the ministry”. If all these were not there, then why was this communiqué issued?

The reason for the restriction is the demand from Europe

When we look at the developments behind the scenes of this decision, the most important reason for the publication of the communiqué is there is an important demand for tomatoes from Europe for Turkey. in Europe energy crisis is occurring. This winter will be very difficult. Businesses stop their production. Production is difficult due to rising costs and the energy crisis. Therefore, they are trying to meet their needs from other producing countries. Therefore, there is a great demand for tomatoes and tomato paste. There is a concern that prices will rise in the domestic market as demand increases. The Ministry of Commerce is trying to take measures for exports so that prices do not increase.

Manufacturer and exporter on edge

Although there is no big problem in the amount of production compared to previous years, there is a concern in both industrial tomatoes and table tomatoes. This is the concern whether domestic prices will rise with the increase in export-based demand.

Turkey’s total tomato paste export in 2021 was 207 thousand tons. In return, revenue of $203 million was provided. In the first 7 months of this year, approximately 144 thousand tons of tomato paste was exported. about 177 million dollar income was earned. There was a big increase in the first 7 months before the tomato paste season started more intensely. Demand is much higher.

After tomato paste, there is now a great demand for greenhouse tomatoes from Europe. Both producers and exporters are on their toes. There is a concern that there will be a restriction on tomato exports.

The energy crisis in Europe is growing. For this reason, production is getting harder day by day. Europe wants to import tomatoes instead of tomato production.

Spain and the Netherlands rank first among the countries that meet Europe’s needs for tomatoes. The Netherlands had previously reduced its production by 15-20 percent due to the high costs and the energy problem. Instead of producing, producers preferred to sell their natural gas contracts and earn more money from the contract.

In Spain, on the other hand, it is stated that production can only be self-sufficient due to the effect of drought and the energy crisis.

Would a tomato be worth 2-2.5 Euros per kilo?

There is not only demand to buy tomatoes from Turkey, but there are also those who want to invest. They want to take the tomatoes they produce in Turkey to Europe. It wants to meet the European need for tomatoes from countries such as Turkey, Egypt and Morocco.

Currently, it is claimed that chain markets in Europe are offering to buy tomatoes from Turkey for 2-2.5 Euros per kilo. Greenhouse growers and exporters, on the other hand, say that currently, 1 kilo of tomatoes is exported at a price of around 1.15 Euros.

Europe’s demand for tomatoes

The consumer in Europe mostly demands cluster tomatoes. These tomatoes, which are grown in greenhouses where soilless agriculture is carried out, do not have pesticide residues or have acceptable values.

A significant amount of export is made to Europe from the greenhouses operating in İzmir Dikili, Afyon Sandıklı and producing with geothermal heating. Europe’s largest greenhouse, Agrobay, operating in Izmir Dikili, exports to Russia and Europe. Infrastructure works for the establishment of Dikili Agro-Based Greenhouse Specialized Organized Industrial Zone continue.

There are 18 geothermal heated greenhouses in Afyon Sandıklı. In addition, work continues for the establishment of 6-7 more greenhouses. There are greenhouses in Antalya that export to Europe.

When all these are evaluated, Europe’s demands can be met more easily as of next year.

Planning is essential

These developments clearly show that Turkey needs to make a plan for tomatoes. Planning should be done not only in tomato but also in all agricultural production. With the pandemic, there has been an increase in the demands for Turkey for many products, especially tomatoes. Instead of increasing production to meet these demands, Turkey is trying to prevent price increases in the country with export restrictions and export bans.

What needs to be done is to take advantage of these opportunities, to expand export markets and to generate more foreign exchange income from exports. This does not mean that the consumer should consume more expensive tomatoes in the domestic market. Our priority should be for the consumer to consume sufficient tomatoes at an affordable price. When production increases, the consumer can consume tomatoes under more favorable conditions.

In summary, as we have mentioned at every opportunity, Turkey has great potential in agriculture. With the right policies and good planning, it is not difficult to establish a structure where the hard work of the producer is rewarded, and the consumer consumes healthy and reliable foods at affordable prices.

The cost, which was 6 liras last year, increased to 14 liras.

The most important problem in tomato production is high input prices. In 2021, the production cost of 1 kilo of tomatoes was 6 liras. This year it went up to 14 liras. Due to the high price this year, tomato consumption in the domestic market may be low depending on the purchasing power of the consumer. This may further highlight exports to Europe.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s statement that “inflation will decrease in January, February and March” means that price increases will not be allowed. Therefore, the producer and exporter are uneasy. Is there any restriction on export? she worried.

Two years ago, tomato fields were plowed before the crop was harvested, since the production cost of 1 kilo of tomato for tomato paste was 45-50 kuruş, while the price decreased to 35 kurus. This year, both costs and prices were high in tomato paste and table tomatoes. The consumer had difficulty in buying tomatoes. Now, it is said that the price may increase with the demands of Europe and Russia.