Göksel AKSEL, Mina Glütensiz: “Feedback of consumers to us is very positive; they love the products and direct us very well with their demands. There is confidential emotion bond between us beyond producer-consumer relation. Our aim is to have the place we deserve in corporate markets and to transmit these products to everyone. I think that we will be able to achieve this in the near future.”
The fact that disorders such as gluten sensitivity, Coeliac disease and Phenylketonuria (PKU) has increased rapidly and a gluten-free nutrition program is proposed for people who suffer these diseases caused that demand for gluten-free products increased than ever before. This month, as BBM Magazine, we gathered Göksel Aksel who is Vice President of Board of Directors of Mina Glütensiz. Aksel, who realized existence and importance of gluten-free products when starting to work in private teaching institutions, had individual and social responsibility and decided to make production on this area.
While Mina Glütensiz Gıda that also produces products such as flour, starch, rice flour and tarhana for usage at home in addition to foods such as bread, cookie, pie and cake, is increasing its existence in corporate stores, it will also start to take new steps for exportation. We are obtaining details from Göksel Aksel…
First of all, could you give us some information about Mina Glütensiz Gıda? When was Mina Gluten-Free founded and what are its activities?
Mina was founded on January, 2014. We produce gluten-free and low protein products as well as cold-pressed oil.
Could you tell us about your gluten-free product range? Do these products target individual consumers or the baking industry?
You can consider our products in two categories. The first category is ready-to-eat sweet or salty snack cookies, bread varieties, pastries, pizza, desserts and cakes, and the second category includes products such as cake-stuffed pastry-bread flour, cocoa, starch, powdered sugar, rice flour, noodles, tarhana (tomato and pimento) prepared for the consumers to cook the product at home. Soon we will be offering two varieties of pudding to our customers.
Why gluten-free products? What is the situation in the gluten-free products market in Turkey? How the demand for these products is and what does your company expect from the future?
I realized the existence and value of gluten-free products when I started working at special education institutions and got to know the special children in need. I saw that they had serious problems in finding these products and therefore in maintaining an adequate and proper diet. As I investigated these nutritional types with children diagnosed with autism, I realized that individuals with Celiac disease and PCU were more limited in this regard, and that they could not find the diversity that they needed even if they found the product, and I decided that working in this area is an individual and social responsibility.
1 percent of our population has been diagnosed with these diseases. Nevertheless, the rate is actually far higher, considering the people who have been diagnosed but not recorded, or who have not been diagnosed since their condition is confused with other diseases and people who have gluten intolerance for different reasons without celiac disease. Besides, gluten-free diet is recommended as an alternative in all new movements in healthy and balanced eating habits.
What is the position and share of Mina Glütensiz Gıda in the Turkish gluten-free food market? Where do you want to see yourself in this market in the future?
We are currently in the 10% segment in the Turkish gluten-free products market. Our company is quite young. We continue our activities with complete focus on the needs of our consumers, considering the palatal delights of our country, and renewing our products based on the feedback from the consumers.
The feedback of consumers is quite favorable. They like our products and they direct us with their demands. We have an emotional relationship based on trust, rather than a relationship between a manufacturer and a consumer. Our objective is to achieve our deserved place in corporate supermarkets to ensure that everyone can access these products. I believe we will do it very soon.
Do you export your products to abroad or do you plan to make exports? If so, could you give us some information?
We have some export requests from abroad. We were planning to do in the future but we may have to schedule it for an earlier date because of the requests.
People struggling with diseases such as celiac and phenylketonuria (PKU), have had significant problems in accessing gluten-free products. However, recently, the number of companies developing such products has increased and the product range has been expanded. Do you think the development has been sufficient? What else should be done to ensure more convenient and more affordable access to gluten-free products?
Product range and accessibility has still not reached an extent that can respond to the needs of consumers. Manufacturers are trying to promote and distribute their products in the market with their own resources. Turkey does not have the necessary health and financial support policy to support the needs of these patients as a health problem, and to help them fulfill their needs without problems and to support the companies that meet their needs and produce such products. Therefore, access to products is difficult and more burdensome in financial terms as compared to other products.
Product prices are higher than the other products due to raw material prices. If raw material prices fall and become more accessible via regulations to be introduce, this will be reflected our prices in a positive way. This is the expectation of manufacturers and consumers.
Do you produce any other products than gluten-free food? If so, could you tell us about the other activities and products of your company?
At Mina Glütensiz Gıda, we cannot include any other products in our manufacturing site. This applies to all companies. However, we also produce cold-pressed oil at our subsidiaries.
Through which channels can individual consumers access your products? Where can the consumers go to access the products of Mina Gluten-Free Food?
The easiest way of accessing our products is via internet. We can send orders directly to specified addresses. Besides, we are starting to get shelf areas at corporate and regional supermarkets.
Local administrations organize Gluten-Free Cafés in the scope of social responsibility projects. In this regards, our products are included in the portfolio of municipalities of various districts, primarily in Bornova and Karşıyaka Municipalities.
We would like to know about your technical infrastructure and manufacturing system and criteria. Could you give us some information about our manufacturing facilities, your technologies, your capacity and your manufacturing certificates?
First of all, at our company, it is mandatory to use 1st hand machinery. We have the ovens, mixers, and other equipment which are produced with cutting edge technology. However, since our production is based on human labor, we offer continuous training to our employees regarding the importance and delicacies of our job.
Are there any new products you have offered recently or you plan to offer soon?
We are planning to launch two varieties of pudding. Our tarhana has been put up for sale with celiac and PKU varieties.
Finally, what are your final remarks on the gluten-free products market and the objectives of your company?
We want to make sure that everyone who relies on gluten-free diet can have convenient access to these products at affordable costs.