Oil producer Turkey lags behind in consumption

Oil producer Turkey lags behind in consumption

İZMİR - Anatolia News Agency
Oil producer Turkey lags behind in consumption

Though Turkish consumers are increasing their intake of olive oil due to health trends, Turkey still lags behind in consumption vis-a-vis its olive oil producing peers.

Turkey, a major olive oil-producing nation, still consumes less olive oil than other olive oil-producing countries, said Olive and Olive Oil Promotion Committee (ZZTK) president Metin Ölken. According to Ölken, while olive oil consumption has increased in Turkey over the past few years, there is still a long way to go and more efforts need to be made to spur consumption.

“While Greece consumes 25 kilograms of olive oil per capita, Italy consumes 11.5 kilograms and Spain 10.4 kilograms, Turkey only consumes one kilogram per capita. Recently, with the boom in healthy living, there has been an increase in consumption in Turkey,” said Ölken. That said, Ölken added that due to the prevalence of unlabeled olive oil in the market, it was difficult to record accurate statistics, but that he believed Turkey was now nearing the 1.5 kilogram per capita mark due to this new trend.
While traditionally olive oil consumption was more common in the coastal regions of Turkey where olives are grown, the level of consumption is now increasing in Anatolia. Ölken believes that Turkey needs to do a better job of promoting olive oil in the domestic market and that the low levels of consumption stem from a lack of information.

The ZZTK held a series of promotional activities in shopping centers in Istanbul, Ankara and Bursa last year and has branched out to shopping centers in Trabzon, Eskişehir, Erzurum and Konya, this year targeting the Black Sea and Anatolian provinces. Customers who visit the olive oil promotion events get to sample olive oil and learn about its use, benefits and diverse varieties, Ölken said, adding that for example, olive oil is a fruit juice and should not be confused with different plant oils.

200,000 tons annually

Turkey now produces 200,000 tons of olive oil per annum and this is expected to reach 600,000 tons in three years, but the external market is not enough to absorb the production, said Ölken, adding that domestic consumers are also a must.

Turkey is currently focusing on China as its most coveted export market for olive oil. The ZZTK plans to hold special olive oil-related activities in China this year as part of the “Year of Turkey” in China next year and has applied to Turkey’s Culture and Tourism Ministry for support.