` Q&A With Mustafa Tan, National Olive Oil Council of Turkey

Africa / Middle East

Q&A With Mustafa Tan, National Olive Oil Council of Turkey

Jul. 30, 2010
By Umut Egitimci

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After Turkey left the Inter­na­tional Olive Oil Coun­cil in 1998, the National Olive and Olive Oil Coun­cil (UZZK) was orga­nized. Today, it has become one of the main orga­ni­za­tions in Turkey that help to develop the olive oil indus­try and cul­ture. Dr. Mustafa Tan, Chair­man of National Olive and Olive Oil Coun­cil, agreed recently to answer ques­tions about the orga­ni­za­tion and the olive indus­try in Turkey.

OOT: How and why was the National Olive and Olive Oil Coun­cil estab­lished?

Dr. TAN: Due to the needs of the sec­tor, National Olive and Olive Oil Coun­cil (known as UZZK in Turk­ish) was estab­lished as a reflec­tion of a strong civil soci­ety ini­tia­tive. On June 1st, 2002, Adatepe was the place for our first meet­ing. Later, at meet­ings in Izmir, Aydın, Bursa, hun­dreds of indus­try rep­re­sen­ta­tives who aimed to estab­lish UZZK, chose the exec­u­tive com­mit­tee. Many of our friends who were involved in that com­mit­tee are cur­rently work­ing with us in the man­age­ment for UZZK. Until then and wor­thy of this trust, we have been work­ing to develop our olive indus­try. Our goal is sim­ply to bring all seg­ments of the indus­try together, find solu­tions for the prob­lems of the indus­try legally and even­tu­ally make our country’s olive indus­try suc­ceed to the throne where it deserves to be. In accor­dance with this goal, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the olive indus­try came together with the sup­port of the rel­e­vant insti­tutes and orga­ni­za­tions, includ­ing the Turk­ish Repub­lic Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture and Rural Affairs and cre­ated a mile­stone for our indus­try.

Turk­ish olive sec­tor have had issues and it sure will have in the future. Started as a leader of pro­duc­tion and in the amount of trees in olive oil’s home­land Ana­to­lia, it moved back­wards to the fifth posi­tion after Spain, Italy, Greece and Tunisia. Our yield of olive and olive oil per tree is low and we still have prob­lems regard­ing qual­ity stan­dards. How­ever we still talk about these prob­lems while we have the most suit­able soil and cli­mate con­di­tions for pro­duc­ing the best olives and olive oil. There are still thou­sands of houses that beau­ti­ful olive oil has not entered yet and mil­lions of peo­ple who do not know enough about olive oil. As a first step, we would like to raise our olive oil con­sump­tion from 2 – 3 kg to 5 kg per per­son and be able to con­sume what we pro­duce.

OOT: What kind of work does the UZZK do in Turkey?


Dr. TAN: UZZK is cre­at­ing a col­lec­tive con­scious­ness and com­mon address among the pub­lic, NGOs and pri­vate sec­tor in order to;

  • Develop stronger struc­ture for olive indus­try in Turkey,
  • Sup­port cre­at­ing brands for prod­uct mar­ket­ing,
  • Develop olive and olive oil pro­duc­tion, con­sump­tion and trade,
  • Ensure the inte­gra­tion of domes­tic and inter­na­tional mar­ket for pro­duc­ers and indus­tri­al­ists,
  • Real­ize the har­mony with Euro­pean Union olive and olive oil com­mon mar­ket for­ma­tion,
  • Increase the com­pe­ti­tion with the world mar­ket by cre­at­ing devel­op­ment plans,
  • And solve the prod­uct prob­lems by report­ing them to Agri­cul­tural Sup­port and Guid­ance Com­mit­tee.

By get­ting together in accor­dance to the 5488 Lim­ited Agri­cul­ture Act and the National Olive and Olive Oil Coun­cil Foun­da­tion and Prin­ci­ples of Reg­u­la­tion” pro­vi­sions, we started estab­lish­ing the first prod­uct coun­cil and con­tinue our work with the real­iza­tion of the 1st Ordi­nary Gen­eral Assem­bly on 12th of Novem­ber, 2007 and as of today com­pleted our third year of activ­ity.

When we look back at the last three years, we wit­ness so many prob­lems (past and cur­rent) of the indus­try and yet a will­ing­ness to solve these prob­lems. As you will appre­ci­ate, the olive indus­try in our coun­try has to go through this dif­fi­cult process by com­pet­ing with the giants. In this process, qual­ity, effi­ciency, stan­dard­iza­tion will become more impor­tant than ever, espe­cially the meth­ods that are com­pat­i­ble with the envi­ron­ment and pro­duc­ing qual­ity prod­ucts will be the most spo­ken sub­jects. While Spain, Italy,Greece is slow­ing down even under the secu­rity umbrella of Euro­pean Union, Turkey’s olive indus­try is rais­ing the bars by trans­fer­ring infor­ma­tion, tech­nol­ogy and other mate­r­ial sup­plies.

Because of the global warm­ing pol­lu­tion and drought stress, we had 130 thou­sand tons of olive oil from 150 mil­lion olive trees last year. And this year, by gain­ing 147 thou­sand tons of olive oil, we are happy to get closer to the Euro­pean Union coun­tries. Also in the last two years, around 320 – 400 thou­sand tons of olive for table pro­duc­tion has been achieved. Because olive and olive oil indus­try are much more talk in the coun­try now, and the new investors are spend­ing lots of effort to mar­ket their prod­ucts, domes­tic annual per capita con­sump­tion has raised from 1 liter to 1.5 liter. There’s no doubt that the com­mon goals and efforts of our coun­cil and Agri­cul­ture and Rural Affairs Min­istry, are help­ing the rapid growth of the indus­try in our coun­try.

OOT: How is Turkey doing with the olive oil pro­duc­tion and con­sump­tion at the moment?

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Dr. TAN: Accord­ing to IOC (Inter­na­tional Olive Coun­cil) sources, with its 5 % share of olive oil pro­duc­tion in the last two years, Turkey is on the third row with Tunisia ( 5.5 %) after EU (73%). When it comes to olive for table pro­duc­tion, EU has a share of 33 % and Turkey is fol­low­ing that by its 17 % of share, the same as Egypt. And Turkey is the num­ber one coun­try in the world for pro­duc­ing black olives.

About the con­sump­tion, IOC sta­tis­tics are telling that EU is num­ber one with 64 %, fol­lowed by USA with 9 % and Turkey with 3 %. Another fact is that 25 % of the world con­sump­tion of table olives is being pro­vided by EU while 11 % is pro­vided by Turkey fol­lowed by the USA ( 10 %) and Egypt.

OOT: Has the olive indus­try been effected by the finan­cial cri­sis?

Dr. TAN: Luck­ily, the olive oil indus­try in Turkey has achieved to increase pro­duc­tion for the last two years in spite of the cri­sis. Domes­tic con­sump­tion has increased as well as the export of patented and pack­aged prod­ucts enter­ing into new mar­kets.

OOT: What kind of work should be done in order to increase the sales in Turkey?

Dr. Tan

First of all, we are try­ing to cre­ate an aware­ness in terms of olive oil’s qual­ity advan­tages and healthy ben­e­fits com­par­ing to the other type of oils. Vino­live” fair that’s held every year with our coor­di­na­tion, has great impor­tance for intro­duc­ing and mar­ket­ing olive oil to domes­tic and inter­na­tional mar­kets. There will be a spe­cial­ized olive and olive oil fair called OLIVTECH in Izmir between 1st and 4th of Decem­ber, 2010. I strongly believe this fair will help the indus­try glob­ally and so many world-wide orga­ni­za­tions, includ­ing IOC will know more about the olive and olive oil indus­try in Turkey. We con­tinue to cre­ate work­shops, sem­i­nars and pan­els to cre­ate more aware­ness.


Since Feb­ru­ary 20, 2010 Turkey has become a mem­ber of IOC again. From now on, we will work on col­lab­o­ra­tive projects for mar­ket­ing nation­ally and inter­na­tion­ally with the mul­ti­plier effect of IOC. UZZK will be coor­di­nat­ing these types of pro­mo­tion cam­paigns. On the other hand, we are still work­ing on work­ing against imi­ta­tions of olive oil by the law in order to con­verge with EU stan­dards. Our Qual­ity Con­trol Pro­gramme goes par­al­lel to IOC’s pro­gramme and it will be pub­lished as a white list by UZZK. Soon, all the world will learn that the world’s high­est qual­ity and the most nat­ural olive and olive oil have been pro­duced in Turkey.

OOT: Can you assess the gov­ern­ment sup­port to the indus­try?

Dr. TAN: For the first time a Min­is­ter of Agri­cul­ture has also pro­nounced the goal of becom­ing sec­ond best after Spain which have been directed to, and accepted by, the UZZK and all of the rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the sec­tor. Dur­ing his speech at Adana Olive Sum­mit, Mr. Mehdi Eker, Min­is­ter of Agri­cul­ture and Rural Affairs, said that the indus­try can be insti­tu­tion­al­ized with the inure of National Olive and Olive Oil Coun­cil Reg­u­la­tions and it’s nec­es­sary to move for­ward in the indus­try before we become a mem­ber of EU.

By 2014, the min­istry have deter­mined the goals for olive indus­try as fol­lows;

  1. Olive field: From 700 thou­sand ha to 1 mil­lion ha
  2. Olive Tree Amount: From 140 mil­lion to 180 mil­lion
  3. Table Olive Pro­duc­tion: From 400 thou­sand tons to 650 thou­sand tons
  4. Oil Olive Pro­duc­tion: From 800 thou­sand tons to 3 mil­lion tons
  5. Olive Oil Pro­duc­tion: From 115 thou­sand tons to 750 thou­sand tons
  6. Olive Oil Export: From 70 thou­sand tons to 300 thou­sand tons
  7. Table Olive Export: From 50 thou­sand tons to 200 thou­sand tons
  8. Effi­ciency per tree : From 12 kg to 25 kg
  9. Olive Con­sump­tion per per­son: From 1 kg to 5 kg ( in other words 250 thou­sand tons)
  10. Table Olive Con­sump­tion: Will be increased to 6 kg.

We are happy to see that our min­istry is also utter­ing the same goals for our indus­try. Of course it’s impor­tant that the indus­try should be sup­ported dur­ing this process. There­fore it’d help­ful and needed to ana­lyze the future bet­ter and take actions accord­ing to that.

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