Turkish flour

FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas - The Philippine Star

ISTANBUL-—The mood is festive as the newly elected Turkey president, Tayyip Erdogan assumes power. Among the sectors  welcoming changes promised by the country’s former prime minister, are flour millers who hope presidential intervention in the Philippine-Turkish flour issue will work in their favor.

At a breakfast meeting with Philippine journalists, Turgay Unlu, president of the Turkish Flour Yeast and Ingredients Association, recalled the  defamation of  Turkish flour being imported in the country by local flour millers as of “low quality.”  Unlu  said  the mudslinging “has encouraged us to do better.”

He said the Turkish government’s response  to an embargo against Turkish flour may hurt trade relations between the two countries. Currently, Philippine exports to Turkey amounts to $144 million a year from electronics, IT processes, gold and pearls and P50 million of yachts.

In contrast, Turkey exported a total of $144 million. One half of this is flour.

Following the meeting, Unlu brought our group to meet the father-and-son owners of  Tezcan Flour Mills, one of the top ten of the  1,200 flour millers in the country.  President of the company is Haluk Tezcan,  the third generation of a family that began operations in  1957. Haluk let his son, Yaksel,  the fourth generation, do the talking.

Yaksel, 25, was only  too glad to demonstrate his involvement and vision for the company. His father had trained him from the cradle, so to speak. “I was only 12 when my father required me to report to the company.” He said he would sometimes cry as he “labored” in the production line.

He was, of course, being groomed, to be on the top management level. After finishing industrial engineering at Ankara College, he proceeded to King’s College in London for a masters in marketing management.

Today, Taksel’s main responsibility is “growing” the company’s export market. The company manufactures 1,000 metric tons of wheat flour which is distributed among local and foreign buyers who process it into bread products. The company deals with  buyers in 40 countries, the biggest being Brazil, Haiti, and countries in Africa. It started exporting to the Philippines in 2008. He has visited the Philippines six times.

Working with the  Filipino-Chinese Baker’s Association, he brought a professor to visit large and small neighborhood bakeries  to see how their breadmaking could  be made more efficient.

The Turkish group plans to take three Filipino bakers to Turkey to learn how the Turks are making their bread.

He has donated baking equipment to Filpino bakers to improve the taste of  bread they’re making.

Turks are among the world’s biggest bread consumers, Unlu  broke in. They’re No. 1 in bread wastage. They threw away $354 million worth  of bread last year. That’s a decrease from the $750 million thrown away two years ago.

Yaksel admitted there’s a need to educate his countrymen on the importance of making wise use of resources.

He said one of his family firms R&D  recommendations is developing a “healthier” flour  with increased fiber;  a gluten-free variant, and a “diet”/flour of a low glycemic index.


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