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Japanese wholesalers to import food products from Turkey

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Japanese wholesalers to import food products from Turkey

Japanese supermarkets and wholesalers showed increased interest in Turkey's food producers at the Anfaş Food Products Fair in Antalya, which took place between Feb. 15 and Feb. 18.

At the fair, representatives for Japanese supermarkets and wholesalers held meetings with many Turkish food producers, especially those who produce dried and organic food products.

Yoko Satofuka, owner of the Nanyo Trading Corporation, said she came to the fair to import dried tomatoes, grapes, apricots, figs and legumes, as well as organic food. After meeting with many Turkish producers at the fair, Satofuka said: "Turkey's dried figs cannot be found anywhere else in the world and that's why we want to import them. We are interested in pistachios and other nuts as well." According to Satofuka, Japanese consumers have recently been buying much more dried food because of its perceived health benefits, prompting the company to develop an interest in the dried and organic food market.

Satofuka said her company used to buy food products from Argentina, but the price of Turkish produce has now become more attractive. "Importing products from Turkey will be a big advantage for us. The distance between the two countries is smaller. Turkish producers are more attentive and fulfill our requests more quickly than Argentinean producers, who can take three months to deliver an order," she said, adding that she will hold meetings with more Turkish producers in the western province of İzmir.

Kenichi Mamada, a purchasing manager at Mammy Mart Corporation, which has 58 stores in Japan, said the company had been buying olive oil and pasta from Turkey for the past two years and planned to increase their purchases in the future. He added: "We currently buy 5 percent of our products from Turkey. We have come here to increase this figure."

Mamada stressed the company's confidence in Turkish products, saying: "The reliability of Turkish producers led us to buy more from Turkey, as well as the competitive prices. We can find what we need at a reasonable price." Mamada plans to buy juice, black and green olives, margarine and spices.

Atsuko Matsumura, who represented a leading Japanese wholesale supplier at the fair, said they bought 177 containers of food products from Turkey in 2011 and planned to increase this by importing frozen food, cheese, olive oil, fish and nuts in the future. The depreciation of the euro and the dollar against the Chinese yen directed the wholesaler to Turkish producers, which offer a distinct price advantage over Chinese products.

Japan spends $60 billion on food imports every year, representing 40 percent of the country's annual food consumption.