In two separate food outlook reports published by the United Nations (UN) in June, Türkiye is ranked among the countries that import the most wheat. Türkiye is also among the countries that produce the most wheat, but according to experts, the conuntry’s wheat imports are used as raw materials in production for export, so it needs to increase self-sufficiency in the domestic market.
According to the UN Food Outlook report, Türkiye is one of the countries that produces the most wheat, with an average of 2020-2022. In 2022, the amount of wheat production in the country is predicted to be 19 million tonnes.
Turkish Statistical Institute (TUIK) data shows that wheat production in Türkiye was 20.5 million tonnes in 2020; In 2021, it shows that it was 17.6 million tonnes. The main reasons for this decrease are drought, spike in fertilizer and diesel prices.
Answering BBC Turkish’s questions, FAO Deputy Representative for Türkiye Dr. Ayşegül Selışık said, “Türkiye is one of the world’s leading wheat producing countries (European Union, China, India, Russian Federation, USA, Canada, Ukraine, Pakistan, Australia and Argentina) with an average annual wheat production of 19.7 million tonnes according to FAO data in the last 5 years. With this production level, Türkiye is among the important actors of the world wheat trade in terms of import and export.”
However, although the country is among the important producers, it is also one of the countries that consume the most wheat.
In the Food Outlook report, Türkiye’s wheat use is stated as 24.2 million tonnes in 2021/22. It is predicted that this will rise to 24.4 million tonnes in 2022/23. Türkiye ranks first in this regard after countries such as China, India, Pakistan and Russia.
Still, when wheat production and domestic consumption in the country are almost head-to-head, how is it that it is among the top 10 wheat exporting countries and the third among wheat importers?
“Wheat imports are aimed at meeting the wheat-based food industry”
According to the Food Outlook 2022-2031 report, Türkiye was the third largest wheat importer after Egypt and Indonesia, with 9.5 million tonnes on average in 2019-2021 and this figure is expected to remain the same in 2022/23.
In the same period, wheat export was measured as 4 million tonnes and it is expected to remain this way in the coming period.
Dr. Selışık states that Türkiye imports for use in the wheat-based food industry rather than domestic market consumption and exports these products as well.
Türkiye is the world’s largest flour exporting country…
Indicating that Türkiye’s total wheat usage level is higher than the production level, Dr. Selışık explained, “The main reason for this is the country’s production potential and advantage in the wheat-based food industries. Wheat imports are aimed at meeting the exports of wheat-based products (such as flour and other bakery products, pasta, biscuits, bulghur) in these industries. For example, Türkiye ranks first in the world in flour exports and second in pasta exports after Italy.”
“Therefore Türkiye’s wheat imports are carried out within the framework of the inward processing regime (processing of imported raw materials into food products for export), mostly in order to meet the production input need for export in food industry products based on wheat rather than domestic consumption,” she added…