ISTANBUL, July 29 (Xinhua) -- Increasing number of awards Turkish olive oil has gotten in international competitions in recent years boosts hopes that Turkey's export of branded products may see a significant increase in the medium term.
An increasing number of Turkey's olive oil brands have received awards in some leading competitions such as Italy's Biol, Oil China, Olive Japan and the New York International Olive Oil Competition in the past couple of years.
"Turkey's branded olive oil exports tend to be on the rise," Atilla Totos, a member of the managing board of the Zeytindostu Association, told Xinhua.
Olive growing and olive oil production have achieved a remarkable progress in Turkey particularly in the past 10 years or so.
Quality has increasingly become a major focus as many startups flooded the sector in the same period.
"Turkey is one of the fastest-developing high quality olive oil markets in the world," said Totos, who is in charge of training activities in the Izmir-based association.
However, the rise in Turkey's export of branded and premium olive oil is not expected to be spectacular in a short term.
With around 175 million olive trees, Turkey is among the top five producers of olive oil in the world.
The country, which has on average a yearly olive oil production of 180,000 to 200,000 tons, expects to rank third in production after Spain and Italy in about five years.
"In about 10 years' time, we should have around 200 million olive trees and a yearly oil production of 300,000 to 350,000 tons," Mustafa Tan, the executive director of Turkey's National Olive and Olive Oil Council, told Xinhua.
Some estimated that Turkey may even achieve a production of 650,000 tons in less than 10 years.
The United States, Saudi Arabia and Germany, where a sizable Turkish community lives, are among Turkey's leading export markets for branded products.
China, Russia and Japan are among the countries where Turkish exporters have been trying to get a foothold.
Based on figures of the last five years, Turkey's yearly average exportation of olive oil is nearly 40,000 tons. Turkey's figure roughly makes up just 4 to 5 percent of all olive oil exports in the world.
However, the share of premium products in this figure is rather small as the Turkish olive oil lags behind Italian, Spanish and Greek olive oil in the global market in terms of recognition.
The consumers at home are now aware of the high-quality of the Turkish products, but efforts are still needed for foreign markets to have a similar positive perception about the Turkish olive oil, Totos remarked.
"Turkish olive oils have also stronger aromas that resemble a sort of spicy taste," he said.
Anatolia, the geographical name of the piece of land on which Turkey lies, is widely accepted to be the homeland and gene center of olive.
Turkey sells a major portion of its olive oil to Spanish and Italian companies in bulk, which means lower prices.
Tan of Turkey's national council thinks that for the demand for high-quality Turkish olive oil to increase in the international markets, Turkish brands must aim to get an award at the Mario Solinas Quality Award of the International Olive Council.
"Mario Solinas is the Oscar of the olive oil. When you get an award there, that would surely help boost export of branded products," he stated.
Turkish olive oil companies need also to develop better marketing skills to penetrate niche markets.
More importantly, Turkish producers and exporters of branded products need more government subsidies to be able to compete with their European rivals.
Producers in the EU get around a euro in subsidy from the state for a kilogram of olive oil while the figure is no more than 0.14 euro in Turkey, Tan noted.
"This negatively affects the Turkish producers' export capacity."