The KÖLLA Group will again be focussing strongly on nuts and dried fruits in order to make targeted use of its procurement competence in this product category. Moreover, this segment already played a central role when the company was founded a hundred years ago. As is well known, KÖLLA’s closest connections not only limited to the fresh fruit sector in Turkey. Thanks to its climatic advantages and cultural foundations, the country is also one of the world’s leading suppliers of nuts and dried fruit. Fruchthandel Magazin spoke with Sales Manager Cagla Celikler from KÖLLA Munich.
According to Cagla Celikler, dried fruits and nuts from Turkey are the latest project of the KÖLLA Group, which celebrates its centenary next year. Grapes, apricots, figs and tomatoes are popular Turkish products, both fresh and dried. Hazelnuts and pistachios also have a long tradition in cultivation and trade in Turkey. “This segment is of great importance to KÖLLA, because we want to be leaders in the current food trends on the market. Turkey, where we not only have many years of know-how in the fresh produce business and are very close to production, offers the best conditions for this”, says Celikler in an interview with Fruchthandel magazine. “The objective,” he says, ‘is to develop the opportunities offered by long-standing, close partnerships with Turkish producers into concrete advantages in the value chain. A good example of this are sugar apricots, where for a long time we have had a modern production facility with all the necessary quality parameters in the fresh produce sector. Internationally, there is only demand for the large fruit, therefore the smaller fruit can be used effectively for the dried fruit sector. The definite advantage here is that the fruits already complies with the quality assurance requirements and crop management of the fresh version.” says Celikler.
The apricots are harvested and dried in the heat of the sun in the Malatya region, where around eight million trees produce fruit. Agricultural engineers on site closely monitor the quality of the apricots. They make sure that the quality management processes are realised and customer specifications observed at all times. “Our branch in Izmir, which we opened about three years ago, is also crucial for adding value to the supply chain in Turkey by closely working with the growers to ensure consistently high product quality.
The location allows us to be directly involved and can efficiently coordinate all the stages of production from field to client,” continues Cagla Celikler.
Superfood – Dried Fruit
KÖLLA has high expectations of two other products from Turkey, dried figs and dried mulberries. Although at least the latter are not yet known to a wider public in Germany. “When it comes to figs, our focus is on the particularly aromatic variety Sarilop, which as a fresh product is mostly sold locally on the Turkish market as it does not have the shelf-life for longer transit times. Alternatively, it can be transported by airfreight, which naturally drives up the price. Sarilop figs, are ideal as dried fruit as the large fruits are super soft and have a beautiful natural beige skin,” says Celikler.
Finally, there are mulberries, which have a long tradition in Turkey, if only because of the silk production for which the country was famous in earlier times. The leaves of the mulberry trees, which still exist in large numbers today, serve as food for the caterpillars. “Mulberries have been eaten in Turkey since the beginning of time, in both states: fresh and dried. As a proven specialist in Turkey, the KÖLLA Group has excellent connections in production and the necessary resources to place the dried fruit successfully on the market. “The fruits, which are produced conventionally or according to organic standards, are harvested when ripe and then dried in the sun for three to five days,” Cagla Celikler explains. Mulberries can also be white, black or even red in dried form, depending on the moisture content or variety. At KÖLLA, however, we concentrate on the white berries. Celikler is convinced that the product fits perfectly into the Superfood category and in line with the nutritional awareness of the modern consumer – sweet, but at the same time natural and with a good nutritional balance. “They are excellent as an ingredient in dried fruit and nut combinations, for example. We believe they are an interesting alternative to sultanas or cranberries. Their honey-like sweetness compliments is perfect in muesli or fruit salads. The dried mulberries have also make the perfect snack, easily portable and nutritious.” Celikler does not only see food retailers and health food stores as potential distribution channels, which are certainly predestined for this. “The product is exciting for the entire food industry. Would anyone have expected 15 years ago that niche products like quinoa or bulgur would one day become as popular as they are today? Certainly no one, but it is precisely this experience that should make us optimistic”.