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'I hope that women will be more active in the flour industry'

06 October 20209 min reading

Ayten Çandar Işık
Çandaroğulları Derya Flour and Feed Industry Board Member

The participation of women in the flour industry is too low, says Çandaroğulları Derya Flour and Feed Industry Board Member. She adds: “It is worth to remind that anything will be more beautiful when a woman hand touches. If you give a woman a bag of flour she will present you a bunch of delicious food. A woman gets herself informed and then educates her children. She can balance her husband and the whole world. I hope women will be more active in the flour industry.”

Turkish flour industrialists, who are leaders of global flour markets, are the center of attention with their operations. They achieved nearly 1 billion USD of exports and they have worked with full capacity during the Covid-19 pandemics to meet consumer demands both at home and abroad. Çandaroğulları Derya Flour and Feed Industry is one of the companies that is mentioned so often with its success. The European-educated board member of the company Ayten Çandar Işık follows the market closely. She combines the German discipline and Turkish friendliness to create her own working principles. Ayten Çandar Işık stresses that her company and the Turkish government have taken all necessary measures to meet demands during Covid-19. She does not foresee a shortage of bread or flour production in Turkey during the pandemic. Ayten Çandar Işık, who is also a member of The Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey Women Entrepreneurs Council in Akhisar, answered our questions.

Thank you very much for accepting our interview request. Can you please tell us about yourself?
I was born in Germany in 1983. I received a master’s degree in economics from Bochum University. I was working as a logistics manager in Germany, but after the acquisition of our second factory, the Pinar Un, I left Germany to join the company. I am a member of The Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey Women Entrepreneurs Council in Akhisar. I am also a column writer for Akhisar Haber. I share my personal views and industrial knowledge. I am married and I have a 10-month-old son called Hakan.

The number of women professionals is too low in this industry and we know you as a successful businesswoman. You gave enlightening information at Grain Suppliers Association conferences. What is the secret of your success?
First of all, thank you very much for your kind words. Yes, it is hard to be successful but it is even harder to keep it up. No one can be successful by itself and so-called self-sufficient people are the ones who are mistaken most. Success never comes from nowhere and our success stems from a very active and dynamic team.

We follow a policy that focuses on the future rather than the past but we also learn lessons from past experiences. I combine the German discipline and Turkish friendliness to create my own working principles. If you are successful you will be in love with your business and you will try to be more successful. This is the indispensable rule of business life. In addition to this, if you have a happy family life, it will be perfect.

Kindly please give some details of Çandaroğulları Derya Flour which has been operating for more than 30 years.
The company was founded by Mehmet ve Mücaattin Çandar Brothers in 1990. In 2007, Pınar Flour of Yaşar Group and in 2015 Akhisar Flour were added to the group. Nothing is permanent but change, therefore we always pulse the market to do better. We always prioritize the society and try to meet the needs and demands of people.

What is your production capacity?
We have reached a wheat grinding capacity of 1000 tons. It was only 80 tons when we started to operate. We don’t use our full capacity yet. We are ready to meet with raw material availability and technology infrastructure. We have an automation process from receiving the wheat to the final process of flour production. All of these processes are tracked by us and our expert team. We try to remain updated by following innovations and visiting global exhibitions. The world has become a small village with globalization and now we once again realized this during the Covid-19 crisis. A virus from a city called Wuhan, which is thousands of kilometers away, has shaken the whole world.

You acquired Pınar Flour years ago. How did this brand affect your business?
We went on with our own brand. As a result, it did not affect too much. But its location (being closer to ports) offered some advantages in terms of logistics for raw material procurement and exports.

How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected you? As an economist, what is your comment about the current situation? And what are your expectations?
Covid-19 brings uncertainty for all. Not only for the health aspect but also for economic uncertainties because of governments’ current and possible future restrictions. When cafes and restaurants halted their operations in March, flour demand shifted from out-of-home consumption to at-home. The increase in demand for flour was higher in some countries and most exporters even used their idle capacity to meet the demand. It seems that the flour market is not affected by the situation for now but in the long run, flour trade may be affected since global markets start to slow sown and export costs (container, insurance, shipping) are expected to increase. In 2019, Turkish flour industrialists’ exports hit the level of 1 billion USD. As a result, they have enough capacity to meet domestic demand. IMF mentions a slight recovery in the world economy but they expect 12 trillion USD shrinkage in 2 years. In addition to this, global unemployment will bring social consequences. We witnessed a 10% recession in the Turkish economy. The service industry was the most affected sector while the finance and banking sectors’ performance was not too bad.

What were your experiences during the crisis? Particularly what you felt when you saw empty shelves in supermarkets? Are you ready for a possible new wave?
We once again realized the value of food and particularly wheat. We also realized that even the tiniest problem can wreck global health and shake the world economy. We also understand the value and necessity of the owner’s equity better. It is crucial to operating with its own equity. Regular production is better than excess production. The world is going somewhere which is totally new economically and psychologically.

We also saw a high demand but we knew that this was something temporary. We are ready. We have taken all the necessary measures and our government does the same. We do not foresee a shortage of bread and flour production in Turkey during the pandemic. Our mothers would feed us by baking bread with stone ovens if required. Turkish women always transfer blessings to society.

I think the job specialization culture in the industry will gain ground in Turkey in the coming years and this will allow us to concentrate on value-added production.

What do you to ensure food safety and hygiene?
We are always sensitive to food safety. Our priority is the health of the people and we have a zero-touch production approach. We have a fully automated production from raw material receiving to the packaging. We also have safety measures based on the government’s circular on the Covid-19 pandemic. I hope that all stakeholders will follow the rules and show that unity brings success.

How do you market your products in Turkey?
We have a marketing network and we try to meet demands anywhere. We also try to meet the demands of various products.

How do you source raw materials? What is your strategy to overcome the challenges of the depreciation of the Turkish lira and the Covid-19 pandemic?
We source raw materials that fit our production from various regions provided that the quality is maintained. Of course, the rich wheat varieties of Turkey sometimes make it a bit hard for us. Unfortunately, it is sometimes difficult to maintain balances. Flour production is a craft that is harder than gold processing. Turkish Grain Board is a powerful supporter for us. It immediately stepped in and allocated wheat. We are in close contact with traders and we have no issues about wheat supply. If you can pay its price you won’t have any issues with the supply.

Did you postpone any investments because of Covid-19?
We update our visions, goals, and roadmaps at the meetings that are held at the start of each year. We take possible risks like natural disasters, health issues, etc. into consideration. The economy is the art to meet the limitless demand of human beings with limited resources. Therefore we always update our direction and make investments to meet changing demands.

What are the problems of the flour industry?
Problems are good if you can solve them. They make us move and look for solutions. So we try to be innovative and updated all the time. Flour industrialists have some problems as much as businesses in other sectors. I would like to thank the board of the Turkish Flour Industrialists Federation. They successfully represent us with dynamic and prompt solutions. Do you have anything to add? First of all, thank you very much for inviting us to the pages of your magazine. As I mentioned before, the number of women professionals is too low in this industry. It is worth to remind that anything will be more beautiful when a woman hand touches. If you give a woman a bag of flour she will present you a bunch of delicious food. A woman gets herself informed and then educates her children. She can balance her husband and the whole world. I hope women will be more active in the flour industry. I hope that our country and the world will overcome the challenges of the Covid-19 crisis. And I appreciate everyone that is actively producing. We produce for our country. Turkish people will win this fight with unity.

Thank you for this interview and wish you success.

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