KE 3/2010, s. 12 Turkey has many efforts to develop food safety issues

Being a rapidly growing country, Turkey is seeking ways to modernise its economy which is, together with the ongoing EU accession negotiations, the main driver leading the Turkish business environment to structural changes.

This opens significant business opportunities in various industry sectors including agriculture and food industry. In addition to the expectations in the opening of the chapter 12 on “Food Safety, Veterinary and Pythosanitary Policy” in EU accession negotiations, a substantial portion of agricultural products’ exports are realized to the EU countries – which are largely and strictly following the measures in food safety systems – it is indispensible for Turkey to monitor and practice the developments in food safety.

Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) is one of the efforts of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA) to comply with the international standards. MARA aims to extend the implementation of GAP throughout the country and recently in order to support the program started to collaborate with the private sector.

Migros and Metro are pioneers

The newly food safety certification program developed with Migros retail chain is an example of MARA’s efforts in food safety. As a result of the partnership with Migros – leading player in the retail sector with its 1698 stores in 72 cities of Turkey and also abroad – 236 different factors such as pesticides and hormones are analysed from fruits and vegetables collected from the 2000 contract farmers of Migros. A traceability program will be created through the registration and labelling of the products.

Turkey Category Manager of well-known global retail chain Metro Group noted that they will start to take more effective steps for the analysis of the chemicals use in the agricultural products. They will ask from their sub-contract manufacturers to set up systems which would bring an access for Metro to trace back to the manufacturing registry books. This way, Metro aims to catch an improvement in the tracebility chain.

MARA would like to spread GAP program so that it will cover also the projects in livestock production. As a reflection of those developments in the private sector, Turkey’s first EU-compliant meat-production facility, Namet, with an investment of $68 million, was opened in March 2010.

HACCP and food industry in Turkey

Turkish food industry employs nearly 260.000 people, has 20% share of the whole manufacturing industry, and mainly consists of SME’s. Out of the 28.000 food companies only 2.000 firms are producing in modern technological conditions.
Therefore risk analysis and implementation of HACCP quality systems are also important topics in Turkey’s agenda related to the food safety. According to a regulation issued in 2005, it is obligatory for the establishments who are producing or selling food, to draw up their HACCP plans and applications. Those establishments need to adopt their production facilities according to the regulations, and thereby improve their production standards by employing new technologies.

New draft of a proposed law on the way to the EU standards

Another step from the government is the proposal of the new law to the parliament about the “veterinary services, phytosanitary, food and feed”. Preliminary studies have been realized for the food control system to be accredited according to the ISO 17020.

Plans are being made also to meet the EU requirements projects improving RASFF. Experts from both Secretariat General for EU affairs and from MARA believe that after the legislation process is completed on the draft-law in Parliament, sanctions on food safety will be more strict and, thanks to the projects, done in line with the EU regulations, Turkey will be one step closer to the EU standards.

The year 2009 was the food year in Turkey

In order to create public consciousness on food safety, MARA declared the year 2009 as “Food Year” and carried out certain projects, like training 1680 officials on RASFF topics, good hygiene practices, HACCP, sampling GMO’s and traceability. In addition to the food control programs based on the risk assessment, MARA also launched a telephone line “Alo 174” for registering the calls, claims and inquiries; and thereby aim to establish a data base system mapping the risks on food safety and this way preparing an action plan.

Cooperation with Finland

Within the framework of developing the information and technology infrastructure project, MARA made a “job shadowing workshop” with Finland in 2009. Officials both from the Turkish and Finnish side emphasized the need to get to know the agricultural structure of each other so as to develop and sustain the mutual co-operation in the future.

MARA of Turkey sees potential future projects in areas like control and eradication of animal diseases, strengthening the capacity in the food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary area, the capacity development of risk assessment body, legislative alignment in GMO’s, the Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certification of Foot and Mouth Disease Institute, institutional capacity building for fishery producer organizations and raising awareness of the fishermen on the EU Common Fisheries Policy and The Common Market Organisation (CMO), establishment of further landing ports for fisheries, strengthening fisheries administration (incl. control and inspection, improvement of IT systems, resource management and research), legislative alignment in animal by-products and collection and treatment of animal by-products.

No doubt, these developments are promising as possible business opportunities for Finnish companies. Finnish companies’ experience in food safety, hygiene and risk assessment issues would create a concrete base for the possible co-operation with Turkish food industry players who would need to improve quality management systems and hence would be looking for better solutions for tracking, packing, storage, and distribution processes. Finpro offers services to Finnish companies in all stages of internationalization with over 90 years of expertise.

Nilufer Alapınar
Senior Market Analyst
Finpro Turkey, Istanbul
www.finpro.fi/foodsafety

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Figures from Turkey

• OECD’s projections point out that Turkey will catch a growth rate (6.7%) surpassing that of EU (1.8–2%) in the long run during the period 2011–2017.
• Being the 8th biggest agricultural economy in the world, despite the effects of drought and global turmoil, agricultural sector in Turkey is still performing well and shows the signs of growth where the agricultural GNP has reached from US$ 23 billion in 2003 to US$ 57 billion in 2009.
• In 2010, fruit and vegetable exports alone are expected to reach a US$ 2 billion level.
• In Turkey, with a population of 72 million, every 26 people out of 100 are being employed in the agricultural industry. In that sense, still identified as agricultural country, the export of agricultural products is of particular importance for Turkey’s economy.

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