In September last year, Yeliz Kaya founded Green Ova in the Netherlands. It focuses on importing Turkish fruit and vegetables for the Dutch and European markets. "Many Turkish companies struggle to export goods. I have the advantage of being of Turkish descent and can speak the language. By focusing entirely on Turkish fruits and vegetables, I can specialize, and I'm convinced that this wins both customers' and suppliers' trust," she begins.
Green Ova currently mainly carries Turkish TOV and bell peppers. "I sold plenty of mandarins and lemons during the winter, too, but mostly outside the Netherlands." Outside the Netherlands, the company exports mostly directly to the Balkans, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
"We have a logistics partner in Turkey, so there are a few trucks sporting the Green Ova name. Eventually, we want to carry the whole Turkish package, including pomegranates, figs, cherries, apricots, and watermelons. I try to pick up anything that would interest the Dutch market," Yeliz says.
Expectations for Turkish greenhouse vegetables were high in the winter, thanks to significantly less lit cultivation in the Netherlands. Yeliz says those expectations were not quite met. "We had fantastic sales weeks where we could deliver daily. The shortages were, however, expected to be more severe. The Netherlands doesn't just run out of tomatoes because, besides Spain, there are alternatives like Morocco, Portugal, and Italy. German stores, though, did carry lots of Turkish vine tomatoes."
Last month, Turkish tomato exports were briefly halted. That was due to an embargo placed on that because of rising local market prices. "Growers became agitated, so that was rectified fairly quickly. They promised to keep local market prices down, and the export doors reopened quite quickly. Currently, demand for the loose tomatoes is growing because Morocco isn't allowed to export them," Yeliz explains.
She says cultivation is on the rise in Turkey. "There's more and more greenhouse cultivation, and many growers are using geothermal heat sources. GlobalGAP-certified growers are being added every day. I want to use my brand to improve the Turkish products' image. For example, that country's bell peppers are as good as Dutch ones and often nicer than those from Spain. Yet people are quick to ask why they're priced the same as the Spanish product," Kaya says.
"This is my start-up year, and I want to use it to select the best suppliers. I want to build the business with the right partners, so when customers buy Turkish trade in Green Ova boxes, they're assured of quality and continuity. I'm sure more opportunities will arise."
"For example, I recently sold lots of Turkish leeks to processors. I hadn't counted on that beforehand, but it turns out there's plenty of demand. In the Netherlands, European regulations are putting pressure on some open-field crops. That surely offers possibilities for Turkish products," Yeliz concludes.
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