World Milk Day marked after restart of exports
ANKARA - Anatolian News Agency
Agriculture Minister Mehdi Eker attends an event to celebrate World Milk Day. Turkey gave out 2.5 billion Turkish Liras to subsidize dairy farming in 2012. AA photoTurkey celebrated its first World Milk Day yesterday in Ankara, becoming a dairy product exporter to the European Union after a hiatus of many years.
Turkey’s milk production also appears to be increasing even though it remains a long way from modernizing the sector.
Turkey gained the right to export dairy products to the EU once again after a period of 13 years in April. Six Turkish firms have been approved to export dairy products to the EU for the first phase, namely, Aynes Gıda, Pinar Süt, Ak Gıda, Tat Konserve Sek Süt İşletmesi, Natura Gıda and Unilever’s Algida. Turkey’s dairy exports to the EU had been halted in 2000 when the union took a decision on dairy exports regulations and found Turkey’s standards low.
“Turkey is the ninth biggest milk producer in the world, having increased its annual production to 17 million tons from 8 million. Our ability to sell milk to the European market shows the high quality of our milk. And it is very good to us to be able to sell milk to other countries,” Turkish Agriculture Minister Mehdi Eker said yesterday during an event to celebrate World Milk Day.
Many Turkish companies expect to export dairy products to many other countries, specifically to the Middle East and North Africa, as they have met the EU standards.
According to the data from the Turkish Ministry of Agriculture, Turkey gave out 2.5 billion Turkish Liras to subsidize dairy farming in 2012, up from just 83 million liras in 2002.
Milk production needs to be modernized
Sector representatives, however, say the driving power behind Turkey’s milk production is modern enterprises. According to the latest data of the International Dairy Foods Association, 53 percent of total produced milk is being processed in modern dairy facilities in the world. This rate is 94 percent in the EU. In Turkey, only 27 percent of total produced milk is being processed in modern industrial facilities. Some 33 percent is being processed in so-called small-scale dairy farms, 20 percent is being marketed in the streets and 20 percent of total production is being consumed right away locally, according to the data from the Turkish Ministry of Agriculture.
Milk consumption is low in Turkey despite many initiatives to increase it, such as the free milk distribution project at state schools, which started last year. Milk is the fourth most consumed drink in Turkey after water, tea and carbonated drinks, and this is quite lower than the milk consumption levels in the developed countries, Turkish Agricultural Chambers Union (TZOB) President Şemsi Bayraktar said. On a per capita basis, Turks consume 25 liters of milk annually, compared to 75 liters in the EU and 95 liters in the U.S., according to data from the Turkish Milk Producers Union (SÜTBİR).