“Our baker colleague, who was going to do industrial production 20 years ago, preferred foreign companies. The main reason why he preferred the foreign company was quality. However, in recent years, machinery companies manufacturing for the bakery sector have revolutionized and meet almost 99% of our country's machinery needs and have achieved a very rapid growth in exports. So, we can do it, as long as our fellow countrymen work and this is the best example.”
Chairman of the Board
He is a third generation, well-educated industrialist who applies the developments in technology to his sector and loves his grandfathers’ profession of milling and bakery products. He has worked in many NGOs as well as his companies, and he is one of those who take responsibility for the problems of the sector. The person we are trying to introduce to you is Selim Açık, the Chairman of the Board of Açıklar Flour. Selim Açık, who fully experiences the bakery sector from flour production to bread factory, from foreign trade marketing of bakery machines to licensed warehousing in wheat, is the guest of this issue.
Selim Açık is the Vice President of the Bread Producers Federation of Turkey as well as the board member of the Turkish Industrial Bakers Association. He is the Chairman of the Board of Açıklar Flour and Undane Bread Factory, which are their family companies, and also on the boards of other companies.
Mr. Selim Açık sincerely answered our questions about the problems of the sector, the growing interest in the bakery and bakery products sector in Turkey as well as in the world along with the pandemic, raw material prices and industrial bread production.
Dear Mr. Selim, we know you, but how would you introduce yourself to our readers? What do you do?
I am the third generation manager of the companies of our family, who started industrialism with the flour sector. Our flour factory started operating in 1972. Then we have been trying to contribute to the country's economy with Undane Bread in the field of industrial bakery, Undane Milk Production Farm in the field of livestock, Toyapı Construction in the construction sector, Himmet Dede Lidas in Licensed Warehousing and finally Rotasel Metal with its e-commerce and e-export companies. I am the manager of these family companies. I was born in Avanos. I took part in many associations and foundations in our country. I tried to serve my country with my knowledge and experience as much as I could, taking different positions at the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey, Kayseri Chamber of Industry and Kayseri Chamber of Commerce. Producing and working is my most important hobby.
You actually have many hats. In addition to being the Vice President of the Bread Producers Federation of Turkey, you are board member of the Turkish Industrial Bakers Association. Moreover, you are also the Chairman of the Board of Undane Bread Factory and manage your other companies, which are your own companies. Could you give us information about the activities of Açıklar Flour, which is your “first child”?
Açıklar Flour, as our “first child” with which our family stepped into industrialism and as our main profession, is our business that has been identified with our reliable surname in the sector for decades. It has a daily production capacity of 300 tons, exports to approximately 30 countries, has not left behind while completing half a century and has always kept up with innovation, continues to provide the full technological production that should be found in today's flour industry. Açıklar Flour has been operating for half a century without interrupting production. It is our business that provides us with permanent labels from our grandfather’s profession.
What would you like to say about the technology used in your production, production capacity and exports?
Our factory is fully technological; it also provides the opportunity to realize our production quality at the highest levels while increasing our product range. The high tonnage production of our factory has been our biggest trump card in reducing our production costs. As you know, our country has always ranked high in the world flour exports and has been holding the first place for years. In this success, enterprises like us, which attach importance to technology and investment, have a lot of contribution. The survival of our businesses and following up today's technology provided foreign currency inflow to our country and also increased employment. The flour sector is the pride of our country in exports. It is our greatest wish that it continues to do so.
You are a person who is active in many areas of the sector and fully experiences the sector. Especially, you own your flour factory Açıklar Flour and Undane Bread factory which produces bread. What is the reason for this price impasse in the industry?
Let's not say a price impasse. However, the fluctuations and increases in raw material prices bring the public authority that determines the price of bread against the bread producers. The main reason for this issue is that the baker, whose inputs have increased, cannot quickly reflect the price transition due to the increase in inputs in the free market. In other words, while the inputs of bakers continue to increase every day, the price increase of the product they sell is made annually.
Increasing flour and yeast prices, rise in social security premiums, hikes in electricity, water and natural gas prices increase the costs of bakers. Bakery shopkeepers cannot reflect the increases stemming from the costs to the bread price. How can this problem be solved?
It is a pity for our baker colleagues in this regard. Hundreds of our bakers quit when input costs increase, saying, "If I cannot increase my price, I cannot serve in this sector". I hope that relevant ministers of our state will find a solution to this practice as soon as possible. If not found, our colleagues who are rational and prudent in our sector will withdraw one by one, while those who do not know the sector will lead to a decrease in quality.
How do you evaluate the increase in flour prices?
There are two reasons why flour prices are volatile. The first factor is the decrease in the wheat harvest yield worldwide and especially in our country and in Russia, where our country makes 95 percent of wheat imports, is closely related to wheat prices. The second factor affecting the price increase is the exchange rate fluctuation. These two factors are the main reasons for the increase or decrease in the price of wheat.
BIGGEST INCREASE IS IN FIELD OF PUBLIC BREAD FACTORY
Technological developments for bakery industry are improving rapidly. Turkish machinery manufacturers for bakery products successfully continue their activities in the country and abroad. How did this technological development reflect on bakery industry?
Bakery has now begun to sit on two types of production models. First model is boutique; it developed as a model that offers cafe service to customers at a few tables and that produces 500-1000 pieces per day where family members also work. The other model is the area that produces with fully automatic industrial machines. In the second model, Turkish oven machine manufacturers' machines have just started to be preferred. Not far from this, our baker colleague, who was going to do industrial production 20 years ago, preferred foreign companies. The main reason why he preferred the foreign company was quality.
However, in recent years, machinery companies manufacturing for the bakery sector have revolutionized and meet almost 99% of our country's machinery needs and have achieved a very rapid growth in exports. So, we can do it, as long as our fellow countrymen work and this is the best example.
You are a member and executive of the Turkish Industrial Bakers Association. At what stage is the industrial bakery sector in Turkey?
Industrial bakery is growing day by day. The main growth is experienced in the field of public bread in the industry. Istanbul Public Bread's new factory investment continues. The provinces wishing to produce public bread have joined the likes of Kayseri, Malatya and Balikesir. We can say that there are almost no cities left without a public bread production facility. Capacity increases are being made in the existing public bread production facilities in many provinces.
IT GROWS IN NON-COMPULSORY PRICE TARIFF AREA
New industrial bakeries are being established in the private sector as well. However, these enterprises make investments for bread varieties such as sandwiches, hamburgers and roll bread, whose consumption is increasing day by day and which do not have compulsory price tariffs as per going rate, or market rate. Another aspect of the business is that it markets at national levels make large investments in the new industrial frozen, semi-frozen and daily baked bread sector.
With the pandemic, hygiene and health concerns have increased. How did this affect the development of industrial baking?
As you know, our people even thought of eating the bread after washing in the initial period of lockdowns. The bread sector, which is sold openly, was affected very much. Some of our colleagues even took a break from their work. The business of companies that offer products for packaged sales by industrial production has doubled. The fact that the products of industrial production companies are packaged played a major role in their preference. Industrial production companies increased their market share and achieved rapid growth.
THOSE WHO SEE BREAD QUEUES TURNED TO BAKERY
We see that the number of businesses operating in the field of bread and bakery products has increased recently. Especially in some districts of Istanbul, bakery-cafe style businesses are increasing rapidly. What do you attribute this to?
With the pandemic, our state took some measures. In these precautions, measures such as time limitations and allowing a certain number of customers inside caused large queues in front of our bakery colleagues’ businesses. These queues directed new investors to bakery.
Some friends made good wishes for my sectors during the pandemic. “How smart people you are; you invested in the bread, flour, milk and meat sectors because these are the sectors that do not stop today”. However, these sectors were also affected a lot. In my bread factory, my business has been cut in half.
These ideas directed the people outside the sector and the investors to make new investments to bakery. New investors in the market caused an increase in boutique bakeries, bakery-cafes and small businesses. Investors who make this investment may be successful in the short term, but I do not think they have a chance to be successful in the long term.
NO UNFAIR COMPETITION
What would you recommend to bakers to look to the future with confidence?
I would recommend that, as in every sector, they should keep up their businesses with today's innovations, participate in national exhibitions and events, and bring technology to their businesses in the technology age. Most importantly, I recommend that they give up the tradition of selling below cost as soon as possible.
What would you like to say about the flour sector that has achieved great success in exports? What can be done to bring the idle capacity in the sector to the economy?
Our country's flour industrialists export to 165 countries. Due to these exports, it has made a great contribution to our country's economy with an input of one billion dollars in 2020. It is one of the driving sectors in exports.
However, in addition to our exporting companies, our rate of idle capacity is also very high. In order to increase our exports further, our ministries can do extensive R&D to make these enterprises with idle capacity join exports. There are many flour factories with no machines inside. We have enterprises with very old machinery. If the idle capacity problem is solved, I am sure the sector will achieve greater success.
EXPORT ATTACK WITH BAKER MACHINES
You also have the Baker Machines project, which you recently started with the aim of opening the products of Turkish machinery manufacturers producing bakery products to foreign markets. Can you tell us about this project?
As you know, in today's technology age, everything is bought and sold on the internet. With the e-export practice, which is very new in our country, it is possible to sell every product that does not exceed 300 kgs and whose monetary value does not exceed 15,000 Euros, as in e-commerce.
The purpose of establishing the Baker Machines E-Export website (www.bakermachines.com ), which is a first in the sector, is to bring the sales of machines for bakery and baked goods to the virtual environment. I can say that I am marketing the machines of the companies that produce very high quality for this sector in our country and have proven themselves. I hope this application, which is the first in our country, will be successful and it will pave the way for the companies that produce in our sector in exports. This investment is very new, our website has been set up a short while ago and it has just been opened for sales. There is a lot of attention; I hope we will get the reward of our efforts.
I think you are opening the products of companies that do not have export experience and opportunities but make quality production to foreign markets?
Yes, we want to market the machines produced by companies that produce high quality machines, have proven themselves in the domestic market, but do not sell abroad or have partial sales, to all around the world. Both the manufacturer company will earn and also my company, and most importantly, we will provide foreign currency inflow to our country.
From which markets there is more demand for your venture?
Especially from Europe... Labor, rental costs in Europe are much higher than the inputs of our country's producers. Since the machine prices of the companies that make such machines in Europe are very high, the demand for the machines produced in our country is also high.
WE WILL OPEN A WAREHOUSE IN EUROPE
What are your investment plans for the upcoming period?
We want to open a warehouse on Baker Machines in Europe as soon as possible. Because the most important issue in e-export is high freight costs. When we open a warehouse that will serve in Europe, we will overcome logistics problem. We will be able to serve different sectors in the future.
This question is going to be a bit of magazine. All of your companies are very valuable, but which is your company where you spend the most time? In which company do you feel more comfortable?
A very good question. Undane Milk Production Farm is the enterprise where I feel most peaceful. It has a peaceful environment. Calm, relaxing atmosphere away from the city’s noise and polluted air. In addition, the feeding of the animals and their milking make me very comfortable. I think I will spend my time in this enterprise when I get old.
How do you spend a day among all these work? How do you spend time for your family?
My every Sunday belongs to my family. Neither they nor I compromise on this matter. When I come to my house very late in the evening, I will definitely make it up for the next day and go earlier. I don't like business talks or business meetings at home, I never did. Every individual who has peace in his family runs from success to success. May God not grant unhappy homes to anyone.
If there is anything else you want to add, we can get it.
I cannot help adding this topic. Turkey is a very large and rapidly developing country. Our society has reached the present day with artisans raised with Ahi Evran culture, which has always been praised in history with its gentle and noble past.
Please I want to call on all our industrialists. Let's not lose the feeling of Ahi-order. Whichever country we sell goods to, we should make our children, the legacy of our future, learn that “if it is Turkish good, it is quality; Turkish tradesmen are men of their words”. I believe that this will be the main investment in our future. Let's write this idea in gold letters.
Thank you very much to your publications, I wish you success in your publishing life.