THE THERAPEUTIC TOUCH

Turkey 2020 | AGRICULTURE | INTERVIEW

By providing the end consumer with the health benefits of every flower used in its production process, Altıparmak remains at the forefront of healthy living in Turkey and across the world.

Özen Altıparmak
BIOGRAPHY

After graduating with a degree in management from Ankara's Middle Eastern Technical University, in 1980 Özen Altıparmak helped found the Altıparmak Pazarlama Kolektif Şirketi with his father and brother. They later launched Balparmak under their family brand, which by 1989 became the country's best-sold honey. Balparmak has been the country's market leader every year since 1989.

How is Altıparmak working to grow its domestic market share as well as its exports through the introduction of new products?
We are the top brand in our category in Turkey. Our market share is 57%, excluding discount brands, and 42% with those. Our company has been around for 40 years. We first targeted the domestic market but have been exporting for 25 years. Right now, our exports are small, representing about 4% of our total production, and our goal is to export 20% of our products by 2020 and subsequently grow that to 50%. We are able to increase that figure quickly because we have more innovative products and in general a wider selection of products that appeal to the international market. We have two important products that are more competitive in the global market. One is Apitera, which uses apitherapy, a branch of complementary medicine done with bee products. Apitera Peak products include royal jelly, honey, pollen, and propolis. These are all phytotherapeutic products. We also used herbs like ginger, cinnamon, pepper, ginkgo biloba, and ginseng to combine aromatherapy, apitherapy, and phytotherapy to create a medicinal line. They are also innovative in their packaging, using single-use, practical, and hygienic packaging.

How has the lira's depreciation impacted your exports?
The lira's depreciation has been an advantage for our exports. We can provide international customers lower prices than previously determined before in foreign currency. This makes us more competitive.

In which markets do you see export potential for non-traditional products, such as Apitera?
These are products with great profit and added value because honey is available everywhere around the world, and competition is much steeper; however, these products allow us to reach out to different market segments. Our expectation with these products is to have high demand in the US and Japan because of the nature of the product. This product doesn't exist in the US or Japan and is an on-the-go product that can be carried in one's pocket. It is a practical product and fits in with American culture. As for the regions and countries, we work with Germany, France, Austria, Belgium, China, Japan, Singapore, the UAE, and Qatar, and hope to enter Saudi Arabia soon.

Apitera and many of Altıparmak's new products fit within the health segment. How do you stay in touch with changing consumer preferences?
If one wants to progress in their category, they have to innovate. It is impossible for us to copy a product from the competition. We cannot be the leader. For example, for these products, we thought about the mixture that would be used. One of the most important factors of gaining market share is differentiating one's product. We need to know our consumer and their needs. Thus, for Apitera we wanted to make practical but healthy products that customers could carry in their pockets. This is not our discovery. However, putting it into such a format with products inside is something unique: only we do this.

What marketing tools has Altıparmak used to educate the market about its health-conscious products?
We focus on how to earn the trust of consumers as best we can. We have a QR code on our products to provide customers with additional health and ingredient information. With this, we not only provide an analysis of the product to the customer, but also supply them with information about the flower the product comes from. Consumers can read this before purchasing the product. This will enhance the trust between Balparmak and its consumers. If only all food products had such a thing.