The Turkey or Levant Company was established in 1581.
This text comes from a footnote on a diary entry in the 1893 edition edited by Henry B. Wheatley.
"1581 the Turkey Company was formed, and in 1592 it merged with the Venice Company (founded 1583) to form the Levant Company. It obtained a patent from Elizabeth I for the exclusive right to trade in currants (dried white grapes, i.e. golden raisins). The Company also purchased wine, cotton and silk from the Eastern Mediterranean."
dirk • Link
"Muslims of London: A Brief Historical Overview"
More general background info on the Turkey Co., the Barbary Company (1585), and the East India Company (1600):
"The English in India before the East India Company":
Merchants and Bankers 1575 - 1600
(search for "Turkey Company")
And for those who read German, very interesting reading:
Vom Inselreich zur Weltmacht
Little bit on the history of Smyrna as a Western outpost in the Ottoman Empire.
And a bit on the diary of one employee of the Levant Company, published in 1672
The trading companies were the outreach of Guilds and Companies of the City.
"On the 9th of May 1345, twenty-two members of the ancient Guild of Pepperers founded a fraternity which, in 1376, became The Company of Grocers of London.
"The Fraternity was entrusted with the duty of garbling, or preventing the adulteration of spices and drugs, as well as with the charge of the King's Beam, which weighed all merchandise sold by the Aver-de-Poys weight or the peso grosso. The Company probably derives its name from the Latin, grossarius, one who buys and sells in the gross, in other words a wholesale merchant: since its earliest days the members were wholesale dealers in spices and foreign produce." [whose agents followed the trade-routes to the source in the East] http://www.grocershall.co.uk/comphistory.html
Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.