Turkish cherry producer-exporter Alanar was acquired in early 2018 by Tekfen Holding, one of the largest conglomerates in the country, active primarily in contracting, agriculture and real estate development. Operating as a subsidiary of Tekfen Agri, Alanar is confident about the new season, according to sales and marketing coordinator Yiğit Gökyiğit, in spite of the challenges posed by Covid-19.
As the cherry season gets started in Turkey, how is everything looking?
Yiğit Gökyiğit: The cherry season has already started in Turkey, with early varieties seeing satisfying demand, especially from Asia and the Middle East. We expect a really good volume this year as we had great weather here in Turkey.
Have you made any new investments for this season?
YG: We have invested in a new cherry sorting machine, the most advanced in the whole world at the moment. We will be able to provide the highest quality cherries of any colour requested by the customer. With this new investment, we will also be able to offer a multitude of sizes, including 22+, 24+, 26+, 28+, 30+ and 32+.
Alanar is also investing in its orchards, which we have been covering with protective nets since last year. We have tripled the orchard area of our cherry club members who are contracted to grow cherries exclusively for Alanar. We are involved in a huge project to guarantee both high quality and total traceability in terms of pesticide controls.
Will volumes be impact by the coronavirus crisis?
YG: No, volumes will not be affected by Covid-19. At Alanar we have taken precautions since the very early stages, so we will be ready for the season just like any other year. We also organised a #KeepInTouch programme to maintain remote communications with our business partners during the crisis. It is important that we keep in contact with our customers as we have many ongoing projects that we need to keep them informed about.
What markets are you currently targeting for growth?
YG: Alanar is growing rapidly in East Asia. We expect to send excellent volumes there this year. We also expect to see yearly growth in the UK and Russian markets, although Germany will be our main market again this year.
Will the pandemic affect your ability to reach certain markets, such as in Asia?
YG: No, not at all. Demand from Asia is much higher this year. We expect our logistical costs to be higher due to Covid-19, but our sales will not be greatly affected. The logistics are getting better day by day. It looks like we won’t have any issues at all for our shipments to Europe.
Are there any issues when it comes to labour, either for harvesting or packing?
YG: I believe this may be an issue in western Europe, but not in Turkey. We already have our people ready for harvesting. Turkey is an agricultural country, and those in rural areas live off agriculture, so it is actually very easy to find labour for the harvest here. Our new high-tech sorting and packing machine will mean that fewer people are required in our facility this year anyway.