Spreading their wings: Turkish organic firm Polenkoy sets sights on APAC with online expansion
Until now its main focus has been the Middle East, Europe and the United States, but the firm is now looking to significantly expand its presence in APAC.
“Polenkoy sees the APAC market as significant for us and already we are diligently working on expanding our market there, [with particular interest in] China, Japan, India, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia,” Polenkoy CEO Mikail Cosar told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“We will start mainly with mutual cooperative collaborations, but the aim is to get our APAC growth to catch up with the steady rate of trade growth we are seeing with the Middle East, which has been one of our main markets.”
The firm has long been focused on only offline operations, but the recent COVID-19 pandemic has brought realisations that making a digital shift is imperative, especially if it wishes to reach more overseas consumers.
“We are aware of the technology era and the importance of online sale channels, especially after COVID-19 where more people tend to make purchases via online channels,” said Cosar.
“As such, this will be a new routine for us, [and] we will look into increasing traceability as well [as] it with the increase of internet users, consumers are getting more conscious and want access to as much information as possible before making any purchases.
“Along these lines, we will be providing QR Codes on our products for our customers for traceability. This, and developing channels to sell our products on online channels via distributors will be our main plans for the near future.”
Different regions, different demands
Polenkoy has observed a difference in demand for organic products for different regions, and will be tailoring its export strategy to APAC based on this.
“For Middle Eastern countries; honey, tahini halva (Middle Eastern confectionary), molasses and jams [are the most-ordered products], but from what we are observing APAC countries are demanding more of our honey, olives, olive oil and jams,” said Cosar.
“The key for us here is that our organic products are actually organic – many people think ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ mean the same thing, but this is not true. Our products are certified with many authorized organisations [and follow] Turkey’s Organic Farming Law No. 5262. These also have international organic certificates, such as for our organic jams.
“Any products within our portfolio of some 60 products that are not organic are not claimed as such, but are still 100% natural with no artificial additives.”
He added that the demand for organic products is on the rise around the world, including in APAC and the Middle East, citing research that says ‘organic nutrition recovers and mediates physiological and psychological health’.
“Awareness of this trend and health and wellness is rapidly becoming greater in APAC and in Turkey, parallel to global trends, and we have responded with products fit for a healthy lifestyle – our jams for example contains no granulated sugar but are naturally sweetened by boiling with the fruit sugar itself,” said Cosar.
“In the Middle East, there is a focus on tahini halva too as halva is known to have multiple health benefits such as strengthening bones due to having high calcium content, helping cell renewal and anti-ageing, high protein, expectorant effects to help the upper respiratory tract and so on – it is often considered an essential nutrition in society here.”
Moving forward, in addition to its APAC expansion the firm is also focusing its efforts on new product development, looking to expand its product portfolio even further.
“By end-2021, we intend to also add pickles and tomato sauce to our portfolio – the R&D team is hard at work on this now,” said Cosar.