ISTANBUL, Nov. 7 (Xinhua) -- "Stay healthy with healthy snacks amid the COVID-19 pandemic" is Turkey's slogan at the six-day China International Import Expo (CIIE), where its firms are promoting dried fruits and nuts to Chinese consumers.
The third edition of the CIIE started on schedule on Thursday in China's Shanghai, amid the global health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Turkish firm managers are participating online in this year's expo, while representatives welcome guests at the physical stands in the National Exhibition and Convention Center in Shanghai.
This year's motto among the Turkish companies at the import expo is "eating healthy" as there is an increasing demand for this type of product to stay in good physical shape during the coronavirus crisis, Turkish exhibitors told Xinhua.
"The coronavirus attacks a person's immune system, so people are trying to boost their system with healthy foods, and Chinese consumers are very conscious of that," said Muhammet Dindar, the sales representative of Kirlioglu Agricultural Goods Company.
The Turkish company is a packer of dried fruits such as pistachios, walnuts, hazelnuts, figs and apricots.
"We export 50 percent of our production to China, which is a very important market for us. Our company was lucky enough to expand with Chinese consumers, and they are vital for our activity," Dindar said.
The Aegean Exporters' Association, which is coordinating Turkish exhibitors at the expo, has set its sight on exporting 1 billion U.S dollars' worth of food products to China over the next three years as trade is soaring between the two countries.
According to data from the Turkish Statistical Institute, dried fruit exports to China rose 131 percent to 18 million dollars in 2019, compared to 8 million dollars in 2018.
"China has a fruitarian culture, meaning it is a community that loves fruit. The Chinese have a habit of consuming fruit rather than sweet things, so our products are appealing to their pallet," Dindar said.
He noted that dried fruit and nuts have become an essential part of a healthy diet because of their antioxidant, vitamin and mineral contents recommended by physicians.
Ozgur Baris, an official of another Turkish company specialized in dried fruits and nuts, applauded consumers' habits in China, saying the Chinese "know very well what to eat and keep the virus at bay."
This young manager of Aydin Dried Fruits and Nuts is no stranger to the Chinese market as he lived for eight years in Shanghai and speaks the Chinese language fluently.
"The Chinese culture is a very ancient one, so they are keen to boost their health with natural, organic foods, and that is where we come in play with our varieties of dried fruits and nuts, which can be consumed in different ways, even in ice cream," he noted.
Turkey is the world's largest producer of hazelnuts and the 10th largest exporters of pistachios. The country also produces large quantities of almonds, apricots and figs.
"This year was hard for us because of the pandemic, but for next year we expect our exports to increase considerably to China, and this fair (CIIE) is truly a huge medium for us to have contacts and arrangements with Chinese business partners," Baris said. Enditem