The Turkish cherry season has started with a week of delays, but is ongoing now. Although the Turkish Government has issued a lockdown, one exporter feels this will not have a real affect on the season. Agricultural corporations are exempt from the restrictions and with less traffic one could even say that logistics are going smoother now.
The cherry season has had a bit of a slow start according to Coskun Eren, head of marketing for Turkish fruit exporter Eren Tarim: “The cherry season had a little setback due to cold weather and started a week later than we anticipated. Currently we have started with the early varieties, mainly Burlent. Prices are high and sizes are on the small side, but that will change quite quickly. Truck based volumes will be achieved around 5-10 May. We will be starting the Ziraat 900 and Napoleon varieties towards 20-25 May with truck sized volumes being achieved first week of June. Sizes are looking to be big and quality is nice, we are already setting up our programs for the main varieties for the whole season.”
The Turkish Government has issued a total lockdown due to the coronavirus cases on Thursday, Eren states. “Turkey entered a full lockdown yesterday as of 19:00, the lockdown will be in effect until 05:00 on the 17th of May. This is a major lockdown with many strict rules applied by the government. However, the effects on the agriculture exports will be minimal, we’ll be operating as usual. The Government granted special permits to all agriculture, health, accommodation, customs, food, logistics and essential services, like gas stations, water and electricity stations and such. We are also allowed as a company to issue special permits to our workers and staff so they can come to work. Of course, we won’t be at 100% capacity, as some people may not be able to work during this time. However, I would say we we’ll be able to continue our operations without major problems. At least there is less traffic now so logistics operations are actually smoother.”
For the residents of Turkey, it’s a different story. They will not be able to go outside freely. Eren explains Tourism will not be affected, however: “For citizens, it’s different. All non-essential businesses are to stop all operations and people are only allowed to go out to the nearest shopping center to their home during 10:00-17:00 or to the hospital as a citizen. Tourism is not affected as all tourists are exempt from the lockdown, as long as they provide a valid passport and visa when the officials stop them. They are not exempt from social distancing and mask rules though, so that is something to bear in mind. The retail chains also work from 10:00 to 17:00 every day except Sunday.”
Despite the Turkish lockdown, Eren is convinced they’re fully prepared for the season. “The cherry demand is high, customers are asking all around for prices and possible size distributions inside the trucks. We are confirming the programs we can do at this point. Both truck and air cargo are valid options for Eren. I would say there were two major challenges: predicting the price and sizes before harvest for a long program and MRL requirements from the EU retail chains. But we are ready for them, prices are set and the MRL requirements have been met.”