History in the Making: Turkish Ceramic Tile

The group took daily tours to experience many of the hundreds of museums and cultural venues, historical sites and religious monuments throughout Istanbul.

What began 8,000 years ago on Anatolian soil has reached dizzying heights today, as the Turkish ceramics industry solidifies its position as one of the world's leading producers and exporters of ceramic tile.

Although Istanbul is one of the world's largest cities, it is also recognized as being one of the safest of any city its size. One will find round-the-clock action along its famed Istiklal Caddesi in the Beyoglu district.
To foster increased appreciation for the stature and history of the Turkish tile manufacturing community as well as Turkish culture, the Turkish Ceramics Federation and Central Anatolian Exporters Union of Turkey recently sponsored a trade mission, inviting members of the Ceramic Tile Distributors Association for a weeklong visit to Istanbul. The visit included daily tours of museums, historical sites and tile factories, and evening festivities consisting of lavish receptions, a Marmara sea dinner cruise, and a formal gala on the Bosphorus.

In the past 10 years between 1995 and 2005, Turkish tile exports to the U.S. have increased 12 fold from 900,000 to12,000,000 square meters - 13% of all Turkish tile exports.
With 24 manufacturers citing production of more than 260 million square meters in 2005 - and a total production capacity of 308 million - Turkey is the fifth leading ceramic tile producer in the world, and the third largest in all of Europe. The country's ceramic tile production constitutes 3.5 percent of the world's production.

Posing here during the Gala dinner party were many of the 125 CTDA members and associates representing 50 U.S. companies participated in the recent CTDA Trade Mission to Turkey,
And it does not plan to stop there. Turkey boasts great advantages for increasing its market share in world market, not the least of which are vast reserves of high-quality raw materials. The country is able to satisfy almost all its raw material requirements through domestic production, and numerous firms have installed their own material preparation facilities.

Sponsoring companies that included Ege Seramik, Kale Seramik, Yuksel Seramik, Termal Seramik, Toprak Seramik and Vitra - Eczacibasi Karo Seramik Group, provided factory tours.
A country and an industry focused on the future while respecting its past, the Turkish ceramic tile industry, in an industrial sense, is relatively young, having started serious production in the 1950s, and it is careful to maintain its high production values and standards. As 60 percent of Turkey's total production capacity came on-line after 1990 - a fact recognized by those firms whose operations began prior to that time - there is an almost continuous renewal and upgrading to firms' technological investments, providing many Turkish manufacturers with a technologically superior position to many of their competitors.

On exhibit at the various factories was some of the most technologically advanced tile manufacturing facilities. Kale Seramik boasts the world's largest tile manufacturing facility at a single location.
More than 100 countries are receiving ceramic tile products from Turkish companies today. Between 1990 and 2000, Turkish ceramic sector exports jumped eightfold, leading to a total reaching almost 89 million square meters in 2005 (the industry expects that number to reach 100 million this year). In regard to the United States, many Turkish manufacturers are establishing export companies in the U.S., and are participating in industry events like Coverings Trade Show and Exhibition to display their products and introduce an American audience to their latest innovations. Turkey's tile exports to the United States reached a high of almost 11.5 million square meters in 2005, up from just over 900,000 square meters in 1995, a 12-fold increase. Last year almost 13 percent of all Turkish ceramic tile exports were allocated to the U.S.

Getting to the factories via chartered buses, planes and ferries provided the group with a chance to see the countryside while some included side trips to famous historical sites including Troy and Ephesus.
The Turkish ceramic tile industry is an exciting confluence of rich history, inspired creativity and 21st century technology, making it a player to be recognized and respected on the international tile scene for years to come.