Turkish Delight – Turkish Citrus Exports Reach New Heights
Diba Komsu – Reefer Sales Coordinator
Turkey, a country that occupies a unique geographic region, has emerged as a major global exporter. The climate and abundant rainfall enhance production of almost any kinds of crops, allowing Turkey to maintain a significant trade surplus throughout all seasons of the year.
We spoke with ZIM Turkey sales team, who shared their insights on the recent export boom and plans for the upcoming year.
Turkey is one of the world’s largest economies, what can you tell us about the top commodities out of Turkey?
Over the past years, our local exports have diversified to include a wide range of products. Fruits and vegetables make up most of the fresh commodities, followed by medicine, confectionary as well as huge volumes of poultry, meat, and dairy. These products have rapidly expanded and are being exported by reefers from all ports in the country all the way to Israel, Europe, and Asia.
Among our regular exports, citrus has become our main produce. Citrus fruits include fresh oranges, lemons, grapefruits, and mandarins while the season lasts between October and March.
Levant – Black Sea Express (LBX), our citrus-dedicated service, running from Mersin to Novorossiysk continues to successfully work in high volumes. We remain a leading carrier with a market share of 15% in 2020 and are expecting to strengthen our efforts.
Has the reefer market in Turkey changed over the past year?
As an agricultural force on overall reefer products, the reefer market in Turkey stands at about 10% and is forecast to rise in the coming years. Our target in 2022 is to gradually reach 20% of the market. Compared to various other businesses, we can confidently say that the pandemic has changed the Turkish reefer environment for the better. Due to increased global consumption in the past two years, we experienced a sharp growth in both imports and exports, doubling overall volumes.
Even the Shmita year, which has just begun in Israel, brought on a great deal of interest in exports to Israel and we look forward to sustaining and growing this trade in the years to come.
You managed to successfully operate a whole line dedicated to citrus, what does this process look like?
Unlike dry containers, the reefer supply chain requires constant monitoring of sensitive products that are targeted to specific arrival times, especially when approaching Christmas Eve, the New Year, or any other major holidays. This is where ZIMonitor comes in – these atmosphere-controlled containers allow us to closely track the temperature of the cargo at any point of the journey. Ultimately, this is what secures the products’ condition and shelf life.
Like all ZIM services, the LBX line was clearly thought-out in advance. Our team was well-coordinated with the Line and Trade Management to properly respond to all commercial and operational expectations. Together, we visited all citrus customers in order to fully understand their requirements concerning the service.
Have the recent supply chain delays impacted you at all?
As most global ports have been congested, slowing down empty container movements, the demand only increased. We thought there may be shortage in equipment for the growing number of exports, however, with the help of our Logistics department, we managed to invest a lot of equipment for the reefer cargo to meet our customers’ requests.
How did you manage to stand out in the market?
As LBX finally set sail, we had tremendous success while delivering a shorter 4-day transit-time as an alternative to the existing 6-8 days transit-time available in the market. Also, since we operated our own vessel, we were able to offer customers flexible cut-off time.
Besides export traffic, we tried to assist the FOB accounts managed by our colleagues in Russia and Israel. We approached all possible customers while always working to give them our full support.
An operation like this includes a lot of variables, could you tell us more about your team?
We would say that our dedicated reefer sales team in ZIM Turkey is the one who makes it all possible. Our sales team always finds creative solutions to materialize shipments. Since our main customers are freight forwarders who have their own specialized teams, communicating closely with them resulted in mutual achievements.
The team also took initiative to always be flexible towards customers and as a matter of fact, assisted even on days off, allowing customers to enter their containers to the terminal on Sundays.
So, what’s next for ZIM this coming citrus season?
Last year proved to be a success in ZIM’s service quality as we led the way within the citrus trade here in Turkey. Starting at this point is an advantage, but our aim now is to take our strengths further ahead. Looking at the coming year, we feel the same determination to achieve our customers’ satisfaction, for another successful citrus season.
What is one thing you would like customers to know about how you are operating in the market?
In this business, the operation never really ends – there’s always something happening and it’s our responsibility to make sure that the cargo is being cared for 24/7. Not just during its journey, but before the cargo is loaded and even after it is discharged. Our customers know that ZIM is here for the long run. While the market today offers seasonal services, we most times even extend our service as needed. Our dedicated and reliable service is what the customer looks for.