Onion Processing Situation in Turkey

Turkey is one of the largest onion-producing countries in the world after China, India and the USA. It has 65,000 ha under cultivation and a total annual production almost two million tons-approximately 3% of the world onion production. Onion, as one of the most important crops cultivated in Turkey, is for both local consumption and export. Due to onion production and exports in Turkey increasing gradually in recent years, Iraq remains as the large export market for Turkey’s vegetables and onions, followed by German. With long history of cultivation and consumption, onions in Turkey are not only consumed as cuisine, but also as traditional medicine for various diseases.


I. Onion Variety in Turkey
A large number of commercially grown onions varieties are available in Turkey. Their shape, dimensions, colour and so on are different from each other. Onions are commonly divided into two types according to the growing techniques and growing by time: summer onions and winter onions. The former are generally grown in irrigated gardens. These onions are thick meaty, juicy, oblong shaped, generally consumed in salad. The winter onions are connected with seasonal rains, with round and oval shape.

II. Onion Growing Region in Turkey
Polatli is one of Turkey’s most important onion growing districts, located in the province of Ankara. In year 2015, 62,000 decares have been planted with onions in Polatli less than 70,000 decares planted in 2014. However onion harvest is higher than that in 2014 due to good rainfall in 2015. Polatli’s chamber of Agriculture Chairman, Zekai Koseoglu describe the region as Turkey’s most important onion producer and states that they are expecting a high yield.
Amasya province, located in the middle of the Black Sea region, also has one of the largest production of onion in Turkey.

III. Onion Consumption


1. In the world
Average annual onion consumption equates to approximately 6kg of onions per person across the world. American people consume nearly 16kg, and Libyans famous as the highest consumers have an average per capita consumption of around 30kg/year. Around 15-18% of onions are generally consumed to be processed into sauces, powder and etc..
2. In Turkey
Onion is one of the earliest produced and consumed crops in Turkey and is daily utilized as edible vegetable in every Turkey kitchen all year round. It can be cooked as a dish, and also can be processed into pickled, dehydrated, canned and dried one for further usage. Onion fresh consumption is relatively low, and canned and dried onion consumption also appear in Turkey.
Besides consumption as food, onion can also be regarded as the medicine to cure or enhance some health problems such as asthma, bolting, fertility, infections, high fever and so on.

IV. Onion Processing in Turkey


Onions are the daily consumption vegetable in Turkey. Besides being cooked in the cuisine, onions are often processed in different types. The most common type is onion dehydration in Turkey. Roughly 9kg of fresh onions yield 1 kg of dehydrated onions. Dehydrated onion is almost six times cheaper than fresh one.
Dehydrated onion can be processed into different types like flakes, chopped, minced, granules, powder. Dehydrated onion also has wide application: any recipe calling for onion, substitute for fresh onion, reduce chopping efforts and increased shelf life: normal packing for 1 year, airtight container for 8-10 years. The major machines required for onion processing: vegetable grading machine, onion top and root cutting machine, onion peeling machine, onion slicing machine, hot air circulation drying oven, packing machine.


Processing steps for dehydrated onions:
♦ After the reception of onions, onions should be cleaned to remove dirts on them, and graded in size by the vegetable grading machine. Then remove onion tops, roots and outer leaves.
♦ After removing the tops, roots and outer integuments, onions are washed thoroughly and then cut into slices. It would be better to cut at right angles to the core of the onions by the professional onion cutting machine.
♦ After cutting,  onion slices are carefully washed. Blanching is not practiced, which makes the onion lose its flavor.
♦ After washing and draining, onion slices are spread evenly on the trays of the drying oven. The onions are dried when the ration of prepared raw material to dry product is about 9:1 (moisture content about 5%).
♦ At last, follow these steps: sorting, packing, labelling and storage.
The dried product can be ground into powder or chopped

VI. Market for Onion Processing
Dehydrated onion can be directly utilized whenever required. The market for dehydrated onions is substantial and will be acceptable to large food processing factories, big restaurant chains such as KFC , McDonald and others. The market for dried, fried onion will be developed largely by the manufacturers or processors as onion processing can bring benefit to not only the farmers but also the food processing industry as a whole. Onion processing help the farmers get higher value realization.