Kuzuoğlu Group, Turkey’s largest steelhead producer, using size to its advantage

Kuzuoğlu Export and Marketing Manager Asiye Tataroglu
Kuzuoğlu Export and Marketing Manager Asiye Tataroglu | Photo by Cliff White/SeafoodSource
2 Min

Kuzuoğlu Group is Turkey’s biggest steelhead trout producer, accounting for 12,000 metric tons (MT) of whole round steelhead in 2023, up from 10,166 MT in 2022.

The Fındıklı, Rize, Turkey-headquartered firm, which recently celebrated its 24th anniversary in business, just started exporting its fish in 2016. It recorded USD 66 million (EUR 61.3 million) in sales in 2022 and upped its exports by 20 percent by volume and 38 percent by value, primarily through upping exports to Russia, where it is the top Turkish trout exporter.

Kuzuoğlu Export and Marketing Manager Asiye Tataroglu said despite the growth, 2023 was a difficult year for the company.

“Last year was not good because of the Ukraine war making things difficult, but it has gotten better this year,” Tataroglu told SeafoodSource at the 2024 Seafood Expo Global. “Also, too many farmers came into the market and pushed down prices. But a lot of smaller companies have now left the market and so we’re hoping that will improve the situation, with slightly lower overall production capacity.”

Turkish trout has rapidly gained popularity in global markets, and business has boomed since 2018, when the Turkish government began allowing domestic, sea-grown steelhead trout to be sold as “Turkish salmon.”

Most of Turkey’s trout exports head to Japan and Russia, with big gains seen in the latter market after numerous other countries ceased trading with Russia following its invasion of Ukraine. Turkish exporters have also benefitted from their ability to send trout by truck to Russia through Georgia and Azerbaijan with a two- or three-day delivery time. Despite global geopolitical tensions, Kuzuoğlu has managed to maintain its exports to both Russia and Ukraine, as well as the United States, Canada, Israel, Malaysia, Indonesia. Denmark, and Germany, according to Tataroglu.

Tataroglu said Kuzuoğlu is vertically integrated, operating its own hatchery, farms, processing facility, and sales and marketing arm. She said the company is known for its quality and variety of products, including fresh and frozen trout, as well as smoked products, fillets, roe, and some sea bass and sea bream, as well as mussels.

“It helps to be the biggest because we can offer more product and more options and saving customers money through controlling the whole supply chain,” Tataroglu said.

Tataroglu said the Turkish trout sector is close-knit and has a good sense of camaraderie and cooperation. She said the general sentiment in the sector was that prices were getting more stable and production quality was rising with the exit of smaller, fly-by-night operators.

“This year is going better than the last year,” she said.

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