The country has come out top for packaged food sales in Western Europe, according to Euromonitor data.
For food and nutrition analyst Dimitrios Dimakakkos: “In the last five years Turkey has shown a significant hunger for imported products and this trend is mainly driven by urbanisation. The urban population grew by 11% between 2009 and 2014 and it is expected to increase also in the near future."
“This [has resulted in] the traditional food markets being substituted by modern grocery retailers and multinational branded products found more space on the shelves of supermarkets.”
A trade partnership between the EU and Turkey under the Customs Union agreement has also freed up the food market and made the import-export process between EU countries and Turkey much easier.
Dimakakkos did warn that there still remained several challenges for food manufacturers wishing to break into the Turkish food market, such as a fragmented retail market where traditional grocery shops still accounted for 89% of grocery sales – although this was set to fall in the coming years.
Inflation also meant that imported goods were more expensive than domestic products, but the current government has implemented measures to tackle this.
Yet despite these challenges, the outlook was optimistic - especially for d
airy and bakery, the two most valuable industries for packaged food.
Dairy saw a 7% value growth in 2014 and market analysts have predicted a 2% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2014 to 2019.
Meanwhile bread and bakery products markets were set to enjoy an 18% CAGR between 2013 and 2017, according to Mintel data.
A tightening of health and safety regulations is to account for the dynamism of the bakery sector, according to Mintel analyst Regina Maiseviciute Haydon.
"In 2012 9.2 m tonnes of bread was produced in the country. However, with artisanal production representing around 95% of all sales, most of this was unpackaged bread and bread products," she said.
"However, in the last couple of years the Turkish Health Ministry has implemented a range of new regulations, which have made it compulsory for retailers to wrap previously unpackaged bread for health and safety reasons."
The growing urbanite population and relatively wealthy middle-class also meant that there were opportunities for specialised products and added-value lines.
Dimakakkos told FoodNavigator: “In bakery for instance, which is dominated by white bread, consumers are shifting to naturally healthy high fibre bread that saw a really dynamic growth with 30% value growth in 2014.
“Another category that saw a significant positive performance was organic dairy with yoghurt and cheese to be the fastest growing categories but still this growth is coming from a low base.”
Fellow Euromonitor research analyst Pinar Hosafci confirmed that NPD was driving the still-young health and wellness sector.
“In contrast to Western European markets, in Turkey, health and wellness is still in its infancy,” she said. “Manufacturers are launching new products each year and these new brands drive the trend."
Dimakakkos also spoke of the importance of exporting Halal-certified produce to Turkey, an Islamic country rooted in tradition.