World trade of Oregano

Turkey has a dominant position in the worldwide trade of oregano. Mexico has lost its leading position over the last 15 years. Mexican oregano which is obtained not from Origanum, but Lippia species is used mainly in the United States. However, oregano imports to United States from Turkey have also increased in recent years. Latest estimates as shown in Table 4.2 put worldwide production of oregano at about 9000 tons. In 1999, over 2/3 of this amount was produced in Turkey alone. The reason that the market favours Turkish oregano is due to the expertize and skill developed in Turkey to process wild crafted oregano. The final product is clean and conforms to accepted international standards. It does not contain less than 2.5 per cent essential oil and is free from microbial contamination and foreign matter including insect fragments. Due to the good reputation of Turkish oregano, annually c. 650 tons of oregano is imported into Turkey for re-export after processing (Olivier, 1997; Kayhan, 2000).

Table 4.2 Recent estimates on the world oregano production (Kayhan, 2000)

1985 1990 1995 1999

Turkey 1925 2261 4125 6655

Mexico 2735 2418 1646 1689

Others* 1170** 392 502 531

World total 5830 5158 6273 8875

Notes

* Israel and Greece.

** Albania, Morocco, Egypt.

Domestic uses of Oregano in Turkey

Oregano (kekik) is used as a condiment to flavour soups, salads, olives, chicken and red meat dishes, especially grilled or fried beef steak and lamb chops. It is also an ingredient of several sauces used as seasoning.

Oregano is also a popular herbal tea in Turkey. Oregano water rich in carvacrol is taken orally for gastrointestinal disorders, to reduce blood cholesterol and glucose levels and also for cancer. Oregano oil rich in carvacrol is used as a painkiller in rheumatism by rubbing externally on the painful limbs (Aydin etal, 1993; Baser, 1995; Baytop and Baser, 1995; Baytop, 1999).

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