Turkey and Europe: neighbours and... good customers

Fiera Milano, Rho


Turkey and Europe: neighbours and... good customers

The European Union is Turkey's largest trading partner and their agri-food exchange is packed with opportunities, from exporting fruit and vegetables to importing functional foods.

This 82 million inhabitant market literally on the doorstep of the European Union is Turkey, which, through an association agreement to facilitate trade, is also an important exporter to the EU. The EU is, in fact, Turkey's main trading partner and, before the Covid era, this trade totalled almost $120 billion a year. According to data from the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it reached approximately €114 billion in the first 10 months of 2020. In 2020, Italy has been positioned as the sixth largest trading partner with a total of 13.6 billion interexchange, of which 7.2 billion imports and 6.4 billion exports and a surplus of $745 million for Italy. With almost $1 billion, Italy was also the leading foreign investor in the country in 2020.


As far as the agri-food sector is concerned, Turkey is one of the most dynamic markets for European exports: +49% between 2018 and 2019. Pork, wheat and milk powder led the increase, while olive oil and sugar cane were among the products that declined most in value. According to estimates by Turkey's Federation of Food and Drink Industry Associations, the products with the greatest potential for growth in imports to the country are nuts (75k tonnes per year for nuts and almonds alone), chocolate and confectionery, berries and spices, but functional foods also stand out.


As for exports, again according to the Federation, they exceeded the historical threshold of $20 billion in value for the first time in 2020, with a $4.26 billion surplus. Fresh fruit and vegetables, pulses and cereals are the main strongest items, together with pasta and sauces which, alone, reached USD 19 billion last year.