Rising costs and shrinking margins have not deterred the Turkish producer and exporter from its long-term commitment to environmental and social responsibility

As concerns over the Covid-19 pandemic wane, the issue of rising costs has quickly become the primary focus for producers and exporters across the world. But for Turkey’s Anadolu Etap, the main thing is that business is returning to normal. “It’s great to see business back at Asia Fruit Logistica,” said the company’s Aysel Oguz in Bangkok. “It’s good to see people smiling again.”

Of course, the challenges are mounting, including high costs for logistics, fertilisers and packing materials. “We import fertilisers and other chemicals, while the raw materials for packaging are also imported,” says Oguz. “Cardboard is very expensive in Turkey now, so the price of boxes has tripled. Shipping to our usual export markets is a lot more expensive. Meanwhile, inflation is high, so profit margins have been shrinking, which is a challenge.”

Recently, according to Oguz, the returns on second class apples to certain markets including India and Saudi Arabia have even been less than on the domestic juicing market. “But we have to keep a balance,” she says. “We are an exporting company and we need to satisfy our customers and keep them consistently supplied. There’s no other way.”

However, such challenges have not deterred the company from its important investments in sustainability in response to the biggest threat of all. “Climate change is a continuing concern,” says Oguz. “In Turkey, there is big worry over citrus production due to last year’s weather conditions. Production is down. For all products, customers have to have various options, because anything can happen.”

The company has already produced its third report on sustainability, outlining how it manages the environmental impacts of its operations through measurement, traceability and improvement practices.

Anadolu Etap's Aysel Oguz and Handan Eren

Anadolu Etap’s Aysel Oguz and Handan Eren

“We want to keep investing in this area,” says Oguz. “This is a long-term commitment. It also helps us to stand out from the competition. Everyone can export, everyone can pack, but social and environmental responsibility projects – not so many companies are doing this.”

Labour availability is perhaps less of an issue in Turkey than in much of Europe, but the importance of attracting and retaining a decent workforce is no less great. “In our company we are trying to build an environment where workers want to be and stay,” says Oguz. “So we have started up school projects and social and sustainability programmes in order to achieve this.”

Anadolu Etap was established by Anadolu Group, Özgörkey Holding and the Brazilian Cutrale Group in 2009, with the aim of becoming Turkey’s largest fruit grower and fruit juice supplier. On various farms across Turkey the company produces peaches, nectarines, plums, cherries, pears, apples, apricots, pomegranates, sour cherries and, most recently, kaki.

“We started doing some kakis last year,” says Oguz. “The trees are still young, but in a few years’ time, we will have more fruit and we can start marketing. There are Turkish kaki varieties, but these are less suitable for transportation to export markets, so we have planted some Spanish varieties, which we think have good export potential.”