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Gülçin Arslan HAZAR, Arbella Makarna: “8 percent of our turnover allocated to R&D”

15 February 20179 min reading
“We conducted R&D studies to make pasta healthier than it is, and at the end of our two-year study we made something happen for the first time in Turkey: we combined lentil and chickpeas with pasta.” arbellaArbella Pasta, which offers lasagna, tagliatelle, nidi, lentil pasta and chickpea pasta that are produced for the first time in Turkey, installed its Ecothermic Spaghetti manufacturing line with a daily capacity of 150 tons for the first time in the world, after five years of R&D works. Developing its products with taking consumers’ needs and the global expectations and trends into consideration, Arbella Pasta exports 60% of its manufacture.
Arbella Pasta has set India, China and Russia as target markets, and aims to achieve 10% growth in 2017 and to become one of the top brands in the world in the next decade. We met Gülçin Arslan Hazar, Member of the Executive Board of Arbella Pasta, to discuss the new investments, R&D efforts and future plans of Arbella. We take the details from Gülçin Arslan Hazar. Mrs. Gülçin Arslan Hazar, your company is well known but we would like to refresh the memory of our readers. First of all, could you tell us about Arbella? Could you introduce your company and its story until today? Our company Durum Gıda, the manufacturer of Arbella brand, was founded in 2002. We made an investment on a new and modern facility in Mersin in 2006, and we introduced the Arbella brand to our consumers in 2008. We launched manufacturing with an annual capacity of 120,000 tons of semolina and 84,000 tons of pasta in 2008. With our investments, we increased our capacity to 220,000 tons in semolina and 200,000 tons in pasta. We were exporting 17 tons of pasta to 15 countries in our first year, and today we export approximately 55,000 tons of pasta to almost 100 countries in Africa, EU, Japan and Canada. We are among the top ten pasta companies in the world in terms of pasta manufacturing capacity and facilities and potential of production and export. What are the products-varieties of products you offer under the brand of Arbella? Our product range includes 28 varieties of classical pasta as well as whole grain pasta, gluten-free corn pasta and vitamin, mineral and vegetable-added pasta for children. In addition to these products, we offer our consumers lasagna, tagliatelle, nidi, lentil pasta and chickpea pasta, which are produced for the first time in Turkey. You installed a new manufacturing line at your pasta facility in Mersin. Could you tell us about this investment? What are the technologies you preferred in this new investment, what is the capacity and other properties of the new facility? We installed, for the first time in the world, the Ecothermic Spaghetti manufacturing line with a daily production capacity of 150 tons, which is the result of the 5-year long R&D work of Bühler Company. The technology enables manufacturing better quality pasta using less energy. This investment helps to decrease energy consumption and it is environment-friendly. With this new technology, which is a breakthrough in global pasta production, we produce better quality pasta using less power and less steam. As far as we know, lasagna and tagliatelle are manufactured in Turkey for the first time by Arbella. How did you decide to make this investment? What are your market expectations regarding these new products? Lasagna, tagliatelle and nidi, which is also known as “bird’s nest” were not manufactured in Turkey. Durum wheat, which is the raw material of pasta is produced in Turkey and it is among the best quality types of wheat in the world. These products were imported, which caused flow of foreign currency out of Turkey, and consumers purchasing these products at higher prices. We decided to manufacture these product types at our facilities to contribute to the revenues of our farmers, to prevent flow of foreign currency and to offer better quality products at affordable prices to our consumers. We already had the raw material to support this decision and the technology to manufacture these products. We made our investment, and the e-mails we receive from our consumers demonstrate that we made the right decision. We believe we will become the most preferred brand with these product types in the future. We are living at a time when pulses are becoming particularly important. Arbella also started manufacturing new and innovative products with pulses, such as lentil pasta and chickpea pasta... What is the idea behind these new product investments? Could you tell us about these new innovative products? Our company follows the global trends when developing new products. The latest global trend is health food products with high nutrient value. And pulses are among these products. We conducted R&D works to make pasta make pasta healthier than it is, and at the end of our two-year studies, we realized something for the first time in Turkey: we combined lentil and chickpeas with pasta. With these products we combined pasta with the high protein and fiber content of pulses to contribute to a healthy life. And we developed a new product without losing the known form of pasta both in terms of appearance and in terms of taste. How much distance have you covered in terms of sales and recognition with the new products? How is the consumers’ reaction to these products? We take into consideration the needs of consumers and the trends on global markets when developing new products. As you know, the UN declared the year 2016 as “The Year of Pulses.” Mehdi Eker, our former Minister of Agriculture, and Hüseyin Arslan, our CEO and the President of Global Pulse Confederation, played an important role in this decision by the UN. Our company started its preparations for the year of pulses two years ago. After two-year long R&D activities, we launched the lentil pasta and chickpea pasta before the end of the year. We believe our innovations in products and services will create value for our country. We think these special products will contribute to improvements in perception and consumption of Turkish pasta around the world. These products are drawing remarkable attention in global markets due to their additional benefits for health and their fitness for taste. Do you have any specific activities for marketing new products abroad? Or will this new product group will only be available in the Turkish market? What are your objectives in this area? When we promote these new products at exhibitions abroad, we observe huge attention towards them. Particularly the European, American and Middle East countries are important markets for these special products. We believe these product types will improve our exports and footprint. Arbella moves ahead with innovative products. Could you tell us about the R&D activities of Arbella? What kinds of works are being conducted and what is your R&D budget? We aim to become one of the best known brands in the world in the next decade. For this purpose we made great investments on the brand, product ranges and marketing. We incessantly continue our efforts to respond to the needs and demands of the consumers in Turkey and around the world with our product diversity and our packaging technologies. Our activities include our special products, the first spaghetti in open-and-close packaging in Turkey, and our bundle spaghettis packaged in portions to support healty nutrition. We invested 3 million USD in 3 years on packaging processes, such as additional buildings, lines and new product varieties. We have an R&D team consisting of 7 people, and 8% of our turnover is allocated to R&D activities. What are the main trends in pasta, particularly among Turkish consumers? How will be the future of pasta consumption? The global increase in obesity and diabetic diseases has helped to expand the trend of natural nutrition. Today, consumers follow products, innovations and alternatives which as healthy and tasty. In Turkey, consumption of pasta is increasing because it is a natural, healthy nutrient. The list of food items permissible in school cafeterias has been announced after a common study by the Ministry of Health and Ministry of National Education. Pasta was one of the items in this list. The study also contributes to correct the misinformation about pasta. Considering that nutritional habits are formed in childhood, the study becomes even more important. We see that pasta is more preferred in non-domestic consumption, and the culture of sauces is improved. We believe that pasta will become the main course in Turkey like in other countries. The companies in the industry are conducting communication activities for this purpose. How is Arbella positioned in the Turkish pasta market? What is your objective with these new investments? Our company highlights market diversity. We export 60% of our manufacture, which makes us one of the top 3 exporters in Turkey. Arbella Pasta is a brand that focuses on quality and has a high customer satisfaction, and it is gaining a position in new markets and growing by including new countries in its portfolio every year. Arbella has been increasing its market share both in Turkey and abroad. Our exports in 2015 amounted to 50 million USD. 2016 data demonstrates that we achieved a growth by 15%. Our target markets are India, China and Russia, and we aim to achieve 10% growth in 2017. Could you tell us about your ongoing or future projects? What will we be hearing about Arbella in the future? Arbella Pasta has been improving its imports and market diversity every year. We believe our new and innovative products will contribute to this increase. We continue our R&D activities to offer healthy and new products to pasta-lovers in Turkey and around the world. We will continue to be an innovative brand. We also make efforts to increase consumption in the domestic market. We use a communication language that emphasizes the healthy, nutrient, satisfying and economic aspects of pasta as a food product, and that contributes to the growth of the industry.    
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