Olive sector hit by bad weather, price conflict

Olive sector hit by bad weather, price conflict

ANKARA / BALIKESİR - Anatolia News Agency
Olive sector hit by bad weather, price conflict

Turkey is the world’s second-biggest olive producer and ranks fifth in oil production, according to TZOB figures. However. this year’s production is not promising. AA photo

The olive growers in the southern Marmara region, the heart of the sector in Turkey, have seen up to 70-80 percent production losses this season, the agriculture chamber head said. He called on one of the two largest cooperatives, Tariş, to consider this in price setting. Marmarabirlik, the other large olive and olive oil collective, defends its pricing policy, blaming private buyers for small purchases.

The olive producers are deeply concerned over the capacity fall in table olives for the 2012-2013 season, TZOB Chairman Şemsi Bayraktar said in a written statement yesterday.

“This season producers in Marmara, especially those in the Gulf region [in the south], have seen capacity losses that reach 70 or 80 percent. The producers, who were hurt by low prices last year, are hurt by the losses this time. They can hardly harvest their products,” he said.

The reason for the losses is the weather conditions, mainly the lack of rain at the right time.

Prices below costs

The producers are forced to sell their goods at prices below their costs, he said. The same goes with the olive oil prices. The cost of a kilogram of olive oil is officially determined at 6.38 Turkish Liras, but one can find oil sold at 4 to 4.5 liras on the market, he said.

Bayraktar also criticized Tariş for not announcing its purchase prices yet. “A price by Tariş that considers olive oil production costs and that supports production is important.”

The cooperatives’ pricing play a key role in the Turkish market.

Hidamet Asa, the chairman of Marmarabirlik, said on Nov. 24 that his organization was receiving unfair criticism.

“The private sector has bought a small amount of goods and withdrawn. This shows that Marmarabirlik is the insurance for the producers and remains the sole buyer.”

This season Marmarabirlik has bought 22,000 tons of olives for 75 million Turkish Liras, he noted.
The union has 30,000 olive producers as its members.

However, higher purchase prices were impossible because of the market balances, he said.
However, Bayraktar is hopeful for the future. Recalling that Turkey is among the top olive and olive oil producers across the world, he said the number of olive trees in the country has increased to 155 million from 98 million in 2000, and the production would jump when these young trees also start bearing fruits.

The head of the Turkish Exporters’ Assembly (TİM) shares a similar optimism. Noting that Turkey’s olive and olive oil exports increased 5 percent to $155 million in the first 10 months of the year, TİM Chairman Mehmet Büyükekşi said the sector’s 2023 goal to reach $3.8 billion was a logical one at a meeting in the Marmara province of Balıkesir on Nov. 24.