Visit to local producers proves fruitful

This August I visited some of the producers who are involved in our Flavours from the Fields project which launched in April. Our aim with this project, funded by the TUI Care Foundation, is to help rural, small-scale producers in the Muğla region of south-west Turkey benefit from tourism by facilitating the supply of traditional products to hotels, restaurants and gift shops.

Mentese Coop team

Left to right: Arnau Teixidor and Şemsi Toprak from The Travel Foundation and members of Mentese Cooperative.

I was joined by our destinations programme officer, Arnau Teixidor, to see the production processes of local ingredients and delicacies first hand. These locally sourced and processed products have great regional provenance and showcase the best of the Mugla region.

Connecting producers to the tourism industry

Since its launch in we have successfully connected seven local producers with 19 tourism businesses (15 hotels) to supply their products. In the first three months of the project 150 orders have been placed, leading to the sale of 5.1 tonnes of olive oil, 3.2 tonnes of pine honey, 2.9 tonnes of jam and over 5,000 gift packs of local dried fruits, which have been enjoyed by up to 100,000 tourists.

The current product portfolio includes olives, honey and assorted fruits from seven producers across the region (some of these products can be ordered online):

Products sold so far…

Product development

Besides connecting market-ready products with hotels, product development has been another important aspect of our work. For example, Milas’ producer Labranda, has developed an olive oil with geographical indication, specifically with the Flavours from the Fields project and the tourism sector in mind. Highlighting its special status is a positive sign that culinary tourism can add value to producers, hotels shops and customers who want to buy a premium local product.

Our team has also been working with Maki Bahçe to help them develop customer gift products for hotels, including dried apple bags and gift boxes with assorted dried fruits.

Getting producers market ready is an important aspect of this project and we’ve been working with the Mentese Cooperative, including support in brand development. A new logo has been created to enhance their marketing strategy, and we’ve helped them develop and trial products, such as traditional Tarhana soup (a type of Turkish noodles) and lavender gift bags.

Later this year we’ll be strengthening the capacity of those producers by running a training workshop to broaden the organisational and marketing skills of cooperatives.

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