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Chestnut sweets and desserts from Kardelen to world markets

Chestnut sweet is one of the symbolic products produced locally in Bursa and sold globally. One of the major producers of chestnut based sweets and desserts in Bursa is like Company. The company selis its products under a number of brands.

Excerpts from an interview with Ebru Oymak, of Kardelen Company, fo o w:

Would you give us some information about the founding and development of your company?

At the beginning the company was established as Ilka Sekerleme Co.Ltd. in 1991 as a retailer of candied chestnuts and chestnuts by-products. Within 4 years, in 1995 the production of candied chestnuts and by-products was started in a workshop sized facility where the roots of  today’s Kardelen brand was sown. The production site had an annual capacity of about 100 tons with 20 employees. With marginal but firm growth strategies being applied, in 2007 Ilka Sekerleme Co.Ltd has moved to their current facility in Yaylacik, Bursa ; a factory of 3000 sqm. cosed production site resting upon a 6000 sqm. landscape, employing more than 80 personnel comprehending the seasonal workers and an ISO 22000:2005 certifıcate rightfuly earned. Today, a combination of industrial production and traditional methods take place at Ilka Sekerleme Co.Ltd. with every work station run under hygienic and documented records, cooler and freezer storage houses with assortments of raw materials and a system of sales and aftersales procedures complying to corporate and updated business techniques yielding to a production of 400 tonnes annually.

Could you explain about the product variety in your product portfolio that is sold under Kardelen Chestnut brand?

The most famous brand of  Ilka Sekerleme Co. Ltd is Kardelen, Today Kardelen brand contains six different games of products with each game supported with experienced qualified personnel. The primary game of Kardelen is the so-called Boutique ; retail products where the finese of Ilka Sekerleme Co.Ltd. is kept live and vital.

These freshly produced and retailed products are composed of exquisite packaging with a quallty-added touch of presentation. The secondary game is the distributional products in where the products are typically individually wrapped and coated with chocolate or is suitable to be sold by impulse purchasing strategies. The retailable exports products such as consumer-sized canned and jarred candied chestnut conserves, the catering ranges and industrial ranges are other games composing the Kardelen family. Lastly, the items for market chains; a combination of a few of the games is the final touch to the rich Kardelen product portfolio.

We know that Mumin Akgun, co-owner and the general manager of  Ilka Şekerleme Co. Ltd, is distributing siblings of chestnut and supporting chestnut farming. What is his aim and objective with this project?

Yes, Mr. Akgun has taken the initiatives to expand and truy heel the chestnut industry in Turkey. The growth of chestnuts is diversifıed mainy in three regions of Turkey where Bursa is the most remarkable area with a traditional background. Mr. Akgun is now running the project of reviving those species of chestnuts which are mostly suitable for candy production in Bursa region hoping to achieve an expanded yield of fruits also generating an income to the poor mountain villages. Apart from the sectorial benefits of this project an emphasis on economical metrics must also be acknowledged.

Which products or packages are sold most to which countries?

The Kardelen brand is like a Marco Poo of our Candied Chestnuts that visrts many people’s dining tables on three continents of the globe. Apart from the retailable jarred and canned candied chestnut preserves; the retail exports product portfolio had been enriched with the two new comers of gift boxes released in 2008 and re-developed recently in 2011. The two new gift boxes not only made a break through in the sector but also made a powerful entry in the point of sale exhibits under ambient condrtions appealing to consumers as a take away gift box. The progressive and efficient R&D of Ilka Sekerleme Co. Ltd, has initially resulted in consumers from Canada, U.S.A., U A.E. and so many more to meet with this delicious dessert through market chain shelves, Typically and conventionally Kardelen successivelly exports her products to West European countries like Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands, to Centra European markets of Sovenia, Bosnia, Greece and Bugaria, to Middle East markets such as the U.A.E., Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwart and Qatar and to the North American continent as of the U.S.A and Canada.

What is your target in Sial fairs?

The primary goal of our presence at the Sial is to expand the reliability and acknowledgement of our precious brand Kardelen and its valued sister brand Cardeion. Apart from brand recognitions the business goals are expanding vertically and horizontally in our exports markets. Typically, France is the leader of the worldwide chestnuts and candied chestnuts markets. We wish to position Turkey a side France in relation to fresh and processed chestnuts and chestnuts derived products. Candied Chestnuts is also a traditional treasure of Turkey and we aim to promote both our products and tradition to the rest of the economic world. As France is the main figure of this fruit, we intend to initiate and expand our strategic and business reations with this country.

What is the position of  Turkey in chestnut candy market?

Candied Chestnuts maybe found in different places of the world in different forms. While Japan prefers a lightly candied chestnut Turkey prefers a relatively heavier syrup for candying processes  surprisingly the heaviest candying takes place in Western European countries such as France and Italy.

Candied chestnuts, though, are present in different forms wherever chestnuts are grown. Within this given information, the Turkish Candied Chestnuts industry is a key figure in its market. Turkey overal is one of the leading chestnut countries in the world competing with Italy, Spain, Portugal and France where China and South Korea are the flat leaders and runners-up, Hence the candied chestnuts sector is within this competition.

Wlll you explain the production process of candied chestnuts?

The production of Candied chestnuts is an intricate and delicate process with a necessity of abundant experience and knowledge. The production starts with the selection of the right chestnuts and only with those chestnuts the production must take place. Ony those chestnuts surtable are sorted in sizes and are peeled followed by an individual freezing step. Later, chestnuts are bunded with “tule” as a part of its tradition and are set to boiling. After a long period of boiling the water is lingered and the bunded chestnuts are candied with sugar syrup for at least 2 days, followed by the same period of stabilization and homogenization where candied chestnuts are preserved in the candying syrup. Then chestnuts are removed of their bundles carefuly avoiding any breakage and are placed inside their adequate packaging followed by further pasteurization process if necessary. The complete course of production is a machine-aided manual flowchart where every step needs a great dea of experience of handing and an almost divine patience and finese.

What is the opinion of  Mr. Mumin Akgun, on the future targets of the Kardelen brand?

lka Sekerleme Co.Ltd. is a growing company since its establishment where the key words had been patience and through reliability. Mr. Akgun, the co-owner and the General Manager of Ilka Sekerleme Co. Ltd. foresees the bright future of this company clearly. The recent investments had focused on the accumulation of proper and the best raw matenals possible, and the preservation of these raw materials enhancing the role as well as the responsibirty of the company in the chestnuts markets both domestic and International. Apart from the production side  sales side has also been activelly productive in the recent years where the number of franchises and sef-managed boutique shops has risen dramaticay. Consequently, both for Kardelen and sister Cardeion and Ilka Sekerleme Co. Ltd. attaining a remarkable position in the world of chestnuts is the objective focus.

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