By Ali Atar
Turkish exporters are looking to strengthen their brand perception in Japan, said the acting chairman of the Mediterranean Exporters' Association.
"Our aim is to be chosen for our quality, not for our cheap price. So we want to strengthen the image of Turkish goods," Ali Can Yamanyilmaz told Anadolu Agency during the weekend Turkish Food Festival held in the Japanese capital Tokyo.
Yamanyilmaz said tough markets such as Japan are an important opportunity for Turkish food brands to improve themselves.
"The packaging and presentation of products is as important as the product itself in Japanese markets, which have tight controls and standards," he said.
Stating that no country consumes more rice than Japan, Yamanyilmaz added: "Turkish bulgur may replace rice in Japan."
Yamanyilmaz noted that among Turkey’s most-exported food products to Japan are fishery and aquaculture products, cereals, fresh fruits and vegetables, olive oil, juice, and sugar products.
Underlining that foreign trade between the two countries is not balanced, he stated that the ratio of Turkey's exports to imports from Japan should be increased to 25 percent from its current figure of around 10 percent.
In 2017, Turkey's exports to Japan stood at $411.5 million, versus imports from Japan at $4.3 billion, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat).
During Saturday's Turkish Food Festival, some 27 members of the Mediterranean Exporters' Association met with Japanese caterers and supermarket representatives.
More than 300 B2B meetings were held during the festival, which hosted 44 prominent Japanese food importers.