Turkey's spice exports skyrocketed in 2021. Being home to a variety of spices, Turkey displayed a surge in its exports of red pepper flakes, thyme and cumin.
Spices are and have been a major part of our lives. They were incredibly important throughout history and will continue to be. Many were revered for their therapeutic benefits long before they were used in cooking. Modern science has now demonstrated that many of these do, in fact, provide significant health benefits.
With this being the case, spices are the world's 642nd most traded product with a total trade value of $2.88B. Between 2018 and 2019, Spice exports increased by 1.72% from $2.83B to $2.88B, and it seems that it will continue to increase. Spice trades account for 0.016% of total world trade. However, considering how many products are traded in the world, this percentage is too high. Economically, it's huge.
Spices produced in Turkey have become the world's favorite. Spices not only add flavor to the food, but they also make a substantial contribution to Turkey's exports. Perhaps the most popular among them is red pepper flakes. The export of red pepper flakes, one of the indispensable ingredients of dishes in Turkey, increased by 21.8% in 2021 compared to the previous year and reached $9.2M.
According to the data from The Southeast Anatolian Exporters Associations, $7.5M of red pepper flakes were exported from Turkey in 2020. In 2021, exports exceeded the previous year's figures by 21.8% and reached $9.2M
Last year, 3,886 tons of red pepper flakes were sold to 114 countries, including Germany, Saudi Arabia, England, the Netherlands, France, Sweden, Canada, Italy, and the USA. Germany was the country to which red pepper flakes were exported the most with 2 million 202 thousand dollars. It was followed by the Netherlands with 1 million 591 thousand dollars and the UK with 997 thousand dollars.
Thyme, bay leaves, and cumin were the most popular exports. With 64 million dollars in total spice exports, thyme accounted for 30% of total spice exports. It was followed by bay leaf, which had a $44M export, and cumin, which had an $11M export.
It is estimated that thyme exports would be even higher if there was no drought. 23 thousand tons of thyme export was foreseen in 2021, but it remained at 21 thousand tons. 90 percent of thyme is produced in Denizli.
Nevertheless, the demand for thyme is expected to continue. A new region has been identified in the Tavas district. An area where production will be close to the current production. Organic thyme production is planned there. It is a huge area of 100 thousand decares. In this way, the way for the production of thyme will be opened.
Ege Furniture Paper and Forest Products Exporters' Association President Yağcı spoke on the matter. He stated that they foresaw at least a 5 percent increase in spice exports in the new year. "We can easily say that 212 million dollars will go to 250 million dollars in 2-3 years. Thyme exports also suffer from low yields due to climatic conditions. If not, it will increase by at least 10 percent." It seems that the amount of export will increase even more and will bring more profit to the producers.
The presence of spices is also very rich in Turkey, which has a large genetic diversity due to its geographical location. Production and trade of spices such as cumin, thyme, coriander, and bay leaves, especially red pepper, are at a good point. While Turkey is at the forefront of red pepper production, it also meets 40% of the world's thyme production.
Approximately 25% of the 650 species that are present in the spice flora of Turkey are grown in the Black Sea Region. However, the production of the products that are subject to exportation in terms of value and quantity is made in the Aegean Region. About 191 of the spice plants grown in Turkey have been exported at various times. Out of 350 spice plants that are subject to trade in the world, 100 of them are currently exported from Turkey, albeit in very small quantities.
The most significant trait that international markets look for in spice plants originating in the wild is an output of a certain quality and standard. Taking thyme as an example, which Turkey exports the most in terms of value among spice plants, it can be seen that 20% of the production is still acquired from nature.
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