The Turkish organic sector gathered in Izmir to celebrate the second edition of EKOLOJI 12-15th May. The event aims to become a platform for consolidating the organic market at national level, as organic products from Turkey have focused mainly on export. According to the fair organizer IZFAŞ, 148 exhibitors presented their goods to national buyers, traders and end consumers. The Ecologi Izmir fair also aims to shift north-south trade to lateral trade, opening doors for exchange with neighboring countries and emerging markets. This year the event included speakers Romania, Moldavia and Cyprus.

The Turkish organic sector began to supply European buyers with raw ingredients, dried fruits, pulses and oils in 1985. According to ETO, the Turkish national organic trade association, only ten percent of all organic production remains in Turkey. Since there is little processing of value added organic products in Turkey, consumers only have the choice of imported brands: Soy milk by Naturey, organic coffee and chocolate by Oranca, cosmetics by Florame and natural detergents by KLAR are some of the brands seen at the few natural health food stores in principal cities like Istambul and Izmir. Selected companies such as Kybele and Gürsel Tonbul already offer a great selection of canned and fresh gourmet food.

But according to an internal survey during the Ecologi fair, there is still a strong need for promotion, and more players in the market to reduce prices and to further develop the sector. Of those interviewed, 36 percent claimed organics are still not very popular in Turkey because they are too expensive; 15 percent said there is not enough offer; 10 percent claim there is not a constant availability of goods; 11 percent feel there is a lack of promotion and advertisement, another 5 percent added there is little information available; 7 percent states there is not enough product variety and 3 percent feels consumers still do not know if organic means better quality.One important issue has been solved in Izmir at least: as Turkish consumers are used to buying their fresh vegetables and fruits at open markets, two organic markets have been established in the city since 2010. Farmers who take part in the weekly bazaars have founded the non-governmental organization EKODER in order to open more of such markets in the city.

This year 6,500 visitors attended Ecologi Izmir to learn more about organic agriculture, certification, products, and processing and brands according to Atila Ertem of ETO and organizer of the conference program. “This time we had foreign exhibitors such as Azerbajan Agri Bio and Agri Life from India,” he says. Ecologi Izmir is produced by the non-governmental organization ETO, ASDF and the Izmir municipality fair organization IZFAŞ. As more players in the market become aware of Ecologi Izmir and its strategic location, it is certain that the fair will become a strong reference point for the organic sector in the region.