FOMILK’s sister company Ronly Gida is one of the top hazelnut exporters and processors in Turkey. The country supplies 80% of the world’s hazelnuts.
“Hazelnut is a Turkish nut [and] we’ve been in the hazelnut business for 30 years, starting with hazelnut processing into things like hazelnut paste, chopping, roasting and so on.” FOMILK Director Cem Telvi told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“We then moved into the hazelnut milks area [with FOMILK], and have been developing other [plant-based] milks along the way with it.”
Speaking to us at the Gulfood 2019 show in Dubai, he added that FOMILK’s current portfolio comprised hazelnut milk, almond milk and soy milk, with coconut milk on the way.
“We have noticed early adapters [to our product], who are motivated on their own to try our products, [including] vegans, vegetarians, or medically driven by gluten or lactose intolerances,” said Telvi.
“[That said], we have another line of targeting, which is towards consumers that we call ‘lifestylers’. These are the people who are open to trying new things, who do not necessarily follow a certain diet but are intrigued about improving their quality of life, […] and have an interest in wellness.
“Another group would be aware mothers, who want to explore the healthy alternatives in order to protect their children.”
Honest labelling and high quality
Outside of Turkey, FOMILK has a presence in the UAE, Oman, Kuwait and are looking to go further, both within the Middle Eastern region and beyond.
“We’re not just looking at expanding in terms of distribution and retail in supermarkets and stores, but also at the HoReCa (Hotels, Restaurants and Cafes) area,” said Telvi.
FOMILK is especially looking at ‘making a difference’ in terms of its hazelnut products.
“[Hazelnut products like ours] are not really available anywhere,” claimed Telvi.
“We have an advantage in terms of taste, in that sense, and are also very serious about our honest labelling – whatever we say on the box is [what the consumer gets]. There are no artificial flavours, colouring, [or the like].”
He added that FOMILK was also interested in Asia and Oceania, saying that although details of their expansion plans could not be shared as of yet, they ‘definitely have the capacity and strong, good quality product’ to enter foreign markets.
“We use double the amount of nuts [in our hazelnut and almond milks] as compared to industry standards, we’re generous about this. Many manufacturers will use artificial flavouring [to make up for the nut flavour] and we don’t do that, we want our customers to be sure that we only use real nuts.
“[We] decided at the inception of the company that the most important thing […] is to be honest about our ingredients and make sure to use the best quality of ingredients,” said Telvi.
Moving forward, FOMILK is also looking at expanding its product line beyond just plant-based milks, but also other types of food and beverage products like coffee, puddings and cheese.
In line with current trends
Each of FOMILK’s products comes in both an original and no-sugar variant, which Telvi says is in line with current sugar reduction trends.
“There are no sugars or sweeteners in [the no-sugar range], just nuts and water,” he said.
In addition to this, the company’s plant-based milks have also been designed to be free from lactose, gluten, GMO, artificial preservatives and chemicals, colouring agents and animal products.
“In this day and age, consumers are much more aware of what they consume, they are careful and [want] clean labels, they want to know what’s in the product.”
Telvi explained that the milks had a long shelf-life of nine to 12 months due to ultra-heat treatment as well as a sustainable packaging that protected them from heat, light and other adverse conditions.
“Also, the trend of plant-based is growing both in the West and the East, and Turkey is sort of in the middle, [so we’re well-positioned] to be part of this,” he added.