Thursday, 14 February 2008

Turkish Delight?

In Turkey most people buy their food in markets, not supermarkets. Private equity company BC Partners hopes this will change, having just acquired Migros Turk, Turkey's largest supermarket chain.

Migros is the largest supermarket retailer in Turkey by some way, but because most Turks have yet to develop the habit of supermarket shopping, it is a relatively small company.

However, many believe that as Turkey becomes wealthier, it will develop European-style shopping habits, boosting supermarket sales at the expense of market stalls. Tesco already has a presence in the country, as does French giant Carrefour, which last week announced plans for a massive shopping centre on the outskirts of Istanbul.

In economics-speak, the "organised food sector" in Turkey is undeveloped, with supermarket penetration at low levels. Turkey has 17 supermarkets per million people compared with 150 in the European Union, according to accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The expectation amongst those retailers, banks and investors pouring into the country is that Turkey's economic growth will continue, and that the shape of this development will be along lines previously followed by other European states. If so, then betting on supermarket growth would seem to be a sensible move. Whether the Turks know what's coming is another question.

1 comment:

matt h2o said...

Back when I was writing about supermarkets in the Middle East, I came across some interesting anthropological analysis of changing consumption habits.

If I remember rightly, the upper middle class and the rich tended to prefer shrink-wrapped, irradiated supermarket foods because they thought they were more sanitary and, as such, a symbol of 'progress'. Supermarket foods were the 'done thing' and there was a high level of disdain for 'dirty' street markets.

Reminds me of the attitudes of many white criollos I have met from Latin America, who are even more precious about sanitary food than the Europeans they aspire to be. Again, they hold the campesino-dominated street markets in deep disdain.