Italian confectionery giant Ferrero, which buys around one-third of all of Turkey's hazelnuts, says it paid an extra TL 2 million to purchase higher quality hazelnuts than they would have gotten from anywhere else in the world.
Ferrero Hazelnut Turkey General Manager Bamsi Akın said that Ferrero's turnover has doubled in 10 years, which points to an increase in their demand for hazelnuts.
"Hazelnut is a very important product for Turkey. It needs to grow more to meet the increasing demand but should also keep quality in mind," he said.
He added that Turkey is one of the most important centers for hazelnut production.
"Nearly 1 million tons of hazelnut is produced in the world annually. Turkey produces around 600,000 to 700,000 tons," he said. "We regard Turkey as an ambassador for hazelnut production. Ferrero's R&D [research and development] Department, Soramartec runs an office in Turkey. The people who work here are experts in hazelnut cultivation. We also conduct joint projects with the provincial directorates of agriculture, universities, agricultural chambers, and the Giresun Hazelnut Research Institute to contribute to the development of Turkish hazelnut industry."
Earlier this month, Black Sea Exporters Association said Turkey sold nearly 144,000 tons of hazelnuts abroad in the first five months of the export season. Hazelnut exports between last September and this January, however, fell 3.9 percent compared to the same period last year. Turkey earned $809.4 million in hazelnut exports during the same period, down 15.2 percent. The EU countries remained the top export market for Turkish hazelnuts, buying nearly 77 percent, or 110,262 tons, of Turkey's hazelnut over the five-month period. Turkey, the world's largest hazelnut exporter, earned $1.78 billion with nearly 287,000 tons of hazelnut exports last season, between September 2017 and the end of August 2018.
Akın stated that they invested TL 25 million in different projects directed toward increasing hazelnut production and inform farmers about social and environmental issues.
With regards to the "Ferrero Farming Values" project, Akın explained that Turkey grows an average of 80 to 100 kilograms of hazelnut per decare, while the amount can go up to 300 to 350 kilograms per decare in their model gardens.
"For professional hazelnut cultivation, you need to work in the garden for 120 days per year. This period is 30 days on average in Turkey. We are open to long-term projects in Turkey," he added.
Akın said that they supply hazelnuts to other users of the industry as well, noting they use about 70 percent of the production and the rest goes to other customers.
"Ferrero also has other suppliers besides Ferrero Hazelnut. We have six production facilities in Turkey. Ferrero Group Turkey runs three factories in Trabzon and one each in Düzce, İzmit and Manisa. We employ 1,500 people, run eight warehouses, five collection centers, and five Ferrero Farming Values offices," he said.