By Leman Mammadova
Azerbaijan is trying to expand its hazelnut export routes and enter new markets.
Lebanon is included in the list of countries importing hazelnuts from Azerbaijan, Ismayil Orujov, chairman of the Association of Hazelnut Producers and Exporters told Trend.
He noted that currently the product is exported to more than 20 countries.
“In 2018, hazelnuts were exported more to Russia. In addition, Europe is also an important consumer of Azerbaijani hazelnuts. As we expected, despite the increase in hazelnut production in 2018, Turkish lira depreciation against dollar has led to a decrease in hazelnut exports from Azerbaijan. Proposals made by Turkish exporters on hazelnuts at lower prices decreased competitiveness of Azerbaijani products,” he said.
The chairman of the association said that 14,500 tons of hazelnuts were produced in the last quarter of 2017, while the exports in this period of 2018 decreased by more than 40 percent.
Azerbaijan is known as one of the few countries in the world enjoying favorable climate conditions suitable for hazelnut growing.
The hazelnut, especially in the northern regions of the country, fully rippens by the end of July and the harvesting process lasts from mid-August to mid-September. Hazelnut growing is the main source of income for the population in the northwestern regions of Azerbaijan. It is also mainly a family business in Balakan, Zagatala, Gakh, Gabala, Khachmaz, and Shabran regions.
Today, Azerbaijan has become the world’s third largest hazelnut producer and exporter. As many as 20,850 tons of hazelnut were exported in 2017. The main markets for the Azerbaijani hazelnut are Italy, Russia and Germany.
Several varieties of hazelnuts, such as Atababa, Ashrafli, Ghalib, Ganja, Sachagly, Topgara and Yagly, are cultivated in Azerbaijan. Many of the country's hazelnut orchards are situated in the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains in the regions of Gakh, Zagatala and Balakan.
The hazelnuts produced in Khachmaz region are exported to the Russian Federation, and the hazelnuts produced in Gabala-Oghuz, Gakh-Zagatala and Balakan regions are exported to European countries.
Azerbaijani hazelnuts are being introduced to the international markets to enlarge the export routes.
At exhibitions in Dubai (Gulfood 2017) and Germany (Prowein), where Azerbaijani companies took part in a single stand, orders for exporting hazelnuts to Spain were received.
In 2019, Zagatala nuts processing plant plans to export products to the Swiss market. During the Azerbaijani export mission’s visit to Switzerland preliminary agreements on hazelnut export were reached with Switzerland's GN-company, Varistor and Delica and other influential companies. In the course of the mission, Switzerland agreed to import 220 tons of hazelnuts worth $ 125,000. The total volume of hazelnut export from Azerbaijan to Switzerland was 22 tons in 2017.
In 2016, Ferrero, the world’s largest buyer of hazelnuts, has started purchasing large quantities of Azerbaijan’s hazelnuts. Last year Azerbaijan produced 45,500 tons of hazelnut, which was 32.9 percent more than in 2016. The country exported hazelnuts worth over $100 million in 2017.
Development of the non-oil sector mainly depends on the export of non-oil products and the main goal is to expand access to new markets, besides traditional markets.
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