Seasonal conditions this year and the early start of the cherry harvest have reflected positively on Turkey's cherry exports.
The exports may hit a record high this year by reaching some 85,000 tons with a value of $200 million, Senih Yazgan, vice chairman of Uludağ Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Exporters' Association (UYMSİB), said yesterday.
Yazgan told Anadolu Agency (AA) that the producers are expecting a bumper crop of cherry this year.
According to the UYMSİB's umbrella organization Uludağ Exporters' Association (UİB), Turkey's cherry export revenue rose 184 percent this January to May, compared to the same period last year.
The value of total cherry export of the country amounted to $53.8 million in the first five months of this year, up $18.9 million over the same period last year.
UİB figures also showed that the amount of cherry exports increased by 165 percent to 20,404 tons in the January to May period.
The highest export figure was recorded in 2016 - amounting 78,700 tons with a revenue of $182.7 million. Whereas last year Turkey's cherry export totaled 65,000 tons with a yield worth $159 million.
In light of this five-month data, it is expected that the country's cherry export will reach an all-time peak.
Yazgan said cherry exports were performing very well, adding that hail was the biggest threat for the fruit.
"If we can get through the seasonal problems without difficulties, we believe that a significant amount of cherry exports will be realized this year," he added.
Yazgan added that total cherry exports - including the sales to Russian markets - may even exceed the expected 85,000 tons, since diplomatic tensions with Russia eased have eased.
In January 2016, after Turkey downed a Russian fighter jet violating its airspace, Russia banned imports of Turkish fruits and vegetables including tomatoes, oranges, apples, apricots, cabbage, broccoli, mandarins, pears, peaches, cucumbers, plums, strawberries, onions, and cloves, and also poultry.
However, Russia relaxed trade sanctions placed on Turkey during the summer of 2017.
Currently Turkey's cherry exports to Russia, where the 2018 FIFA World Cup is currently running, have hit 12,900 tons as of June 17, with a 117 percent increase compared to the same period last year
Country-wise exports to Russia increased by 117 percent during the first five months - rising from 5,945 tons to 12,900 tons.
The exports value to Russia also increased by 77 percent from $10.7 million to $19 million.
Russia alone consumed 28 percent of all cherries Turkey sent abroad until June 17 this year.
Yazgan had said that there were high demands in Russia and European market.
"It is very positive that cherry exports to Russia have increased by 117 percent. The World Cup has had a positive influence on cherry exports. Fans from around the world are enjoying Turkish cherries," he had said.
Turkey ranks first in cherry production and third in exports globally.
Renowned for their quality and taste, Turkish cherries have become a favorite of European consumers.
Pointing at the negotiations on a protocol update on exports to China, Yazgan said: "If it is achieved, the Far East markets will be more accessible for Turkish products."
The country recently received a permit to export cherries to China, after almost eight years of technical and diplomatic work, as well as a series of negotiations between Turkish exporters and Chinese authorities. A delegation from Taiwan is due to visit Turkey for cherries as well.
Turkish cherries have reached different countries of the world thanks to Turkish Cargo. It recently started carried the precious cargo to the Norwegian capital Oslo just under six hours.
Normally, it would take six days by truck to reach Norway which would seriously affect the quality of the fruits.
With the success the Oslo operation, cherry growers said that they were planning to export to eight new countries by air which may boost total exports by almost 30 percent compared to the previous year. Turkish Cargo has made a significant contribution to the shelf life of Turkish cherries and in the expansion of its market.
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