Chestnuts in Turkey: 116 million US Dollars in 2002 as a non-wood forest product


The chestnut is probably the most important nut crop found throughout Turkey’s forests. It has been cultivated and consumed for several centuries. Sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa Mill.) is the only native species of the genus in Turkey and its centre of origin is believed to be eastern Turkey or Caucasus.


According to the official figures of 2002, In Turkey, chestnut covers 29 892 ha and, according to the Forest Code, is considered to be a forest tree and is mainly found in forests. According to Forest Management Plan statistics, 87 percent of chestnuts are high forest; the rest are coppice forest. The growing stock is 6 660 722 m3 in high forest and 2 114 846 steres in coppices. Trees outside the forest are negligible.

For the latest invontories (2016) , Turkey has 31.500 hectares pure chestnut forests. Mixed with other trees is about  236.700 hectares.

In general, chestnut is used for its nut. But, in addition to this, its hardwood timber is used for construction materials and its flowers for apiculture – some counties are famous for their chestnut honey.

Geographical distribution

The ten main counties in which the chestnut is found are in the Black Sea region, with the exception of Izmir. But the nuts are generally produced in the Marmara and Aegean regions. It is possible to say, therefore, that the chestnuts found in the Black Sea region are natural.

Nut production (2002)

According to the statistics for the last 20 years, Turkey’s annual crop yield has grown to 68 625 tonnes, an increase of 28 kg of nuts per tree.


Turkey exports more than a tenth of the total amount of chestnut nuts to more than 55 countries, the main customers being Lebanon, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan (from the Near East), and Italy, Greece, Germany, the United Kingdom, Austria and France (from Europe). For the ten years from 1990 to 1999, in exchange for the 62.641 tonnes of chestnuts exported, Turkey earned US$67 million, which means that Turkey’s annual export is 6 000 tonnes worth US$6.7 million. The price of exported nuts is approximately US$1 per kilogram without processing.

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Internal consumption

According to official figures collected from Ankara, internal chestnut consumption is estimated to be 47 387 tonnes annually. The nut is consumed in Turkey in the different ways shown in the table below:


Chestnut product Price (US$/kg)
Raw product (sold in markets) 1.5 (average)
Roasted (sold on streets by street sellers) 6
Candied 20

Total Income from chestnuts

The total annual income from chestnuts, including export, internal consumption and unrecorded consumption, can be calculated as follows:

Export. US$6 679 623 equivalent to 6 264 tonnes (average price of the last ten years).

Internal consumption. US$94 774 000 equivalent to 47 387 tonnes product (the average price of the nut has been accepted at a retail price of US$2/kg).

Unrecorded internal consumption. The export and official internal consumption amount to 53 651 tonnes, but nut production is 68 652 tonnes annually. Therefore, the difference between the two figures is unrecorded consumption. If we assume that these products were consumed at a minimum US$1/kg, US$14 973 000 equivalent to 14.973 tonnes have been earned.

As a consequence, the total income of chestnut nuts can be calculated:

  • Export US$- 6 679 623
  • Internal consumption US$- 94 774 000
  • Unrecorded internal consumption US$-14 973 000
  • Total US$116 426 623

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