Grandsons of the Kale family, who migrated to Turkey from Bulgaria in 1927, opened up to the world, sustaining milling, their ancestral occupation. The flour plant that was established by 10 cousins is exporting to Africa and the Far East countries today. “We have exported to 33 countries since we started. As of this year, we are sending flour regularly to our customers in 15 countries,” said Kadir Kale telling the story of Kale Flour to Miller Magazine.
Kadir KALE - Deputy CEO of Kale Madencilik ve Ticaret A.Ş. - Flour Plant Manager
Family companies are among the prominent actors in shaping the world and Turkish economy. In Turkey, these family companies, being the backbone of Turkish industry, are the center of attraction in the society. Because of this attraction, it is no wonder why there is so much news on their successes, disputes among their members, divisions or closure. Similarly, this news also tells a tale of a family company having a 90-year-old history. Kadir Kale, Deputy CEO of Kale Madencilik ve Ticaret A. Ş. and Flour Plant Manager, sat down with the Miller Magazine to tell the story of Kale Flour, whose story has begun after their ancestors moved from Bulgaria to Turkey in 1927.
Kadir Kale who frankly answered questions by Miller Magazine said that for the time being they are exporting wheat to 33 countries and stressed that their motivating motto is “union is strength.”
Mr. Kale, can you tell us about the story of Kale Flour and how you started milling?
Our story with flour goes back a long way. My grandfather was managing a water mill in Koşukavak town of Kardzhali in Bulgaria. He immigrated to Turkey with his wife, four kids, his mother and father on the back of oxcart in 1927. He continued to be a miller until 1950 in Yeni Muhacir Village of Keşan town. My father and uncles remained in this business, milling. Our activities in milling continued until 1968. Ten cousins got together and founded this company in 1981. The company started the business with mining. On 5 April 1984, we opened our flour company and continued to operate about 33 years.
The third and fourth generations of this family stayed in their grandfather’s milling business. The third generation produced locally. Our children produce flour for foreign countries and export. After this, we will keep producing and exporting for our country. After so many years, I traveled back to Bulgaria and found the broken stones of the water mill run by my grandfather.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a family company established by ten cousins?
We always believe in “union is strength.” I think that’s why we managed well until today. So far, we have not experienced any disadvantages of being a family company. We, as the Kale Flour Factory, employ 40 workers. Among these, there are four family members.
Can you tell us about your annual production and export capacity? What are your export markets and what is your export rate?
Now, we produce about 33 thousand tons of wheat per year. Of this, we export 25 thousand tons while selling 8 thousand tons to the domestic market. Major export destinations are Africa and the Far East countries. Profitable markets vary by season. Sometimes it becomes profitable to export or sell to domestic markets. In the past, we have made production more for the domestic market however; in 2007 we revised our plans and concentrated on exports. Since 2008, our export has increased annually. Now, we export a thousand containers, that is to say, 25 thousand tons.
Recently, Turkish flour sector began to have a voice all around the world. Did this impact your business? What is your contribution to this recent success?
As Turkish flour has become popular and well-known in the world, our penetration into any market, just like any other Turkish flour producer, became easier. We are trying to sustain our contribution to this sector through trying to offer the right product to the right market.
Where do you meet your raw material need from? Is locally produced wheat suitable for any kind of flour?
For the domestic market, we mostly depend on the local production and this meets our need. For foreign markets, we use imported wheat and local wheat as a part of Inward Processing Regime, DIR. Wheat produced in Thrace region is mostly suitable for bread production. For domestic markets, we sell our products mostly to Istanbul and Marmara region. We buy wheat from domestic farmers during the harvest season. We store this in our storage and steel silos. We have 15 thousand tons of storage capacity. We have 250 tons of wheat breaking capacity per day.
Is there any region that you deem as a target area and focus on? Which are the markets that you are successful and effective the most?
Now, our target market is the South American region. We have customers in Africa and the Far East but we try to diversify our market. So far, we have exported wheat to 33 countries. As of this year, we export wheat regularly to our customers in 15 countries. Kiribati, Samoa Island, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Thailand, Uganda, Sudan, Benin, Niger, Angola, Haiti, Venezuela and Guiana are among our markets. This year, our target for export is to increase 10 percent when compared to 2017.
Can you tell us about your machine park in your facility?
Since milling machinery industry is at a good level in Turkey, our machine park consists of domestic machinery. We keep an eye on technological developments and increase our investments in that regard.
What are your targets and investment plan for 2018?
Our biggest goal as the Kale Flour is to make export and domestic market sales so that we can contribute to the national economy. At the same time, we do our best to buy locally produced wheat and process this. We buy wheat in the best way with the best price. By exports, we want to provide foreign exchange input to the country’s economy. In this regard, we continue to work in order to increase our customer portfolio and open to new markets. We also believe that by attending domestic and international fairs and increasing our customer visits, we will achieve our goals. We are constantly in touch with our customers in different countries of the world. I hope that we will ship our flour to many different countries.