By Tom Baker
Olive Oil Times Contributor | Reporting from Buenos Aires
The Bilici Group, a textile company based in the southern Turkish city of Adana, has announced plans to expand business into the olive oil sector.
The group announced their intension this week to establish an olive oil facility in the southern Ceyhan district in cooperation with an Italian firm. Although the identity of the firm is yet to be disclosed, Tamer Bilici, head of the group’s financial operations, told the Turkish Anatolia news agency, “We have gone to Italy and completed our talks with Italian officials,” adding, “We plan to put the facility into operation using high technology.”
In 2006 the company planted one of Turkey’s largest olive groves in Ceyhan, comprising 80,000 olive trees and covering roughly 1,000 kilometers of ground. Bilici noted that in recent years continual work on the grove has meant that this figure has grown to reach 100,000 and that they now aim to increase numbers to 250,000.
The company initially brought olive saplings from nine countries in order to begin its grove. “We tried ten different olives,” Bilici said, “the Italian picual type matured in a short period of time, and we used special techniques to obtain early yields.” He also noted that the reason for further increasing the size of the grove was due to the decision for all products to be made from their own crop, going on to say, “We will collect olives from trees and pack them without touching them. Then we will sell the olive oil produced in our modern facilities to the global market.”
This isn’t the first time that a major Turkish textile producer has crossed over into the olive oil industry. In 2009 the Izmir based company Kuloğlu announced that they had invested five million Euros in launching an olive oil production division, stating that competition within the textile industry from Asia had led them to consider this new venture.
Olive oil consumption in Turkey has been climbing steadily since 2006/07 with annual season-on-season exports fluctuating sharply. According to the export promotion center of Turkey, olive production in 2010 increased to 300,000 tons, up from 150,000 ton in 1999. In 2009/2010 Turkey exported around 8,000 tons of olive oil to the US with sales worth nearly $24 million, and sold 5,351 tons, worth around $14 million to Italy. In November of 2009 the Turkish government chose to rejoin the International Olive Council.