Fahri Özer from Istanbul Chamber of Bakers; “In Turkey, bread sector includes ovens making production mainly using production materials of medium segment electrical and gaseous ovens and with a wood fire. There is not only manual labor but also machine labor. However, our people mainly choose ovens with stone bases and wood ovens in shaping and baking. We see that queues emerge before bakeries with wood furnace and stone base. Large bakeries making industrial production are not popular among people.”
Bread has been a basic food item consumed by everyone regardless of being rich, poor, old or young for centuries. Bread has an important role in human nutrition in all countries. In particular, the role of bread is vital in providing protein and carbohydrate balance and providing the necessary calories for a healthy life. Adequate nutrition is intake of nutrients that contain a level of components to meet all materials needed by human body. The composition of bread contains quite a sufficient level of foods closely related to human nutrition and health.
In Turkey, bread, which is loved so much to attribute divinity, is consumed in higher amounts when compared to other countries. The country is in the first place in bread consumption. Turkey, with the 199.6 kg bread consumption per capita reported for the year 2006, has entered into GUINNESS world record books with the title of highest bread consumption in the world.
Having entered in the records books with its consumption, bread has almost different taste and shape in each province of our country. We, BBM Magazine, have visited Fahri Özer, the President of Istanbul Bread Bakery Craftsman and Bread Vendors Chamber, to learn about technology and working conditions of bakers who are architects of these bread. Stating that bakery artisans make production by blending the old and new in bread technology, Özer said that craftsmen produce bread with love just like caring a baby by considering the palate of Turkish people. We talked with Fahri Özen about problems of Istanbul bakery artisans.
Mr. Özer, as the President of Istanbul Chamber of Bakers, can you give us information about bakery technologies used by your members? What is industrial oven use rate in the sector?
As the Turkish bakery sector, we nearly use almost all of the technologies used in the world. However, large-scale industrial ovens did not become popular in terms of market share due to Turkish people’s palate. We see that bread produced by our industrial ovens can only find market share if they are sold cheaply, namely way lower than normal bread prices. Therefore, since bread from large industrial bakeries does not popularize, the number of these ovens are still very low. The number of bakeries using this technology in Istanbul does not exceed 10-15.
So, what type of technology do bakeries making production in small districts use outside industrial ovens? Through which method do they produce bread?
Currently, production materials used generally in bread sector in Turkey are between old and new. There is not only manual labor but also machine labor. Various technological baking methods are used in bakeries. However, our people mainly choose bakeries with stone based and wood ovens in shaping and baking styles. We see that queues are formed outside bakeries with stone based ovens and those producing bread with a wood fire.
Besides, we see that bakeries have flour products in addition to bread. How would you explain this?
This is also a situation emerging in line with the sectoral needs. Rather than selling bread only, our colleagues try to survive in such harsh economic conditions. In fact, many of our friends begin to enter into cafe and pastry business. That is to say, they try to get their livelihood by selling these by-products. These products are produced by using current systems. They do not create an extra production line for them.
Turkish companies are competing with the world in the production of industrial ovens. They export a lot of products to abroad. Why are they not popular in Turkey?
Yes, actually, there are many companies producing industrial oven materials with high-level technology in Turkey. They sell more to overseas markets. The use of industrial machinery in the country is not large. The technology used for cooking in small-scale bakeries located in small districts is also remarkable. Dough making makes use of technological machinery as we call back story of production. Bakery sector in Turkey is larger than many European countries.
Recently, increasing technology and industrial bakery supplies have not reached the desired level despite being up-to-date and high-quality. Production of a machine is very different from manual production. You cannot catch the quality through production with machinery. You cannot give the taste. It does not appeal to Turkish people’s taste. Industrial ovens in the field of cooking work with automatic loads, but for the ovens in districts, masters receive the bread one by one by hand; artisans shape the dough, put on peel and place inside the oven. Here cooking is completely like caring a baby.
Where do the large-scale industrial ovens provide service in Turkey?
These machine parks are mainly used by bakeries operated by municipalities. They are not quality oriented. They sell the bread for 75 kurus which we sell for 1.25 lira and easily find their own customers in the market. Our people do not compromise their taste when it comes to bread, their basic food. Those who buy bread produced by municipalities are very poor people. That is to say, those people have a problem in paying the price of bread. They have no choice but to consume those bread. Also, there is production in cheap grocery stores.
WHY DO WE EAT MORE BREAD AT DINNER?
What lies behind bakeries’ choice of refraining from large industrial ovens? Is it quality or cost?
In high-tech industrial ovens, it is aimed to produce more bread with few workers. In order for a local bakery to be afloat, it needs to produce at least 3 thousand bread a day, while a bakery using large industrial machinery needs to produce at least 50 thousand bread to survive. If they lower the figure to 30 thousand, they will lose money. It is not that easy to move those machines. It is very difficult to produce with those machines and survive in the market. That’s why nobody is willing to purchase them. On the other hand, there are so many bakeries and few markets in the country, nobody undertakes such an investment.
Such business corporations can reach 50 thousand sales figures by lowering their unit costs and providing cheap bread on the market. But there is no such market. When an industrial bakery is opened with a capacity to produce 50 thousand bread, at least 20 district bakeries need be closed.
Comparing bread consumption in Turkey with European countries, what sort of outcome do you find? What are the reasons why we consume bread more?
There is no such consumption of bread abroad as in Turkey. Particularly in European countries, I can tell you that there no such bread consumption habit. While a slice of bread is enough for them daily, we cannot get full without eating at least a half bread in dinner. This completely depends on dietary habits. Europeans consume at least 300 grams of meat a day per capita. Can our people consume this much? Of course, not. For our 4-person family, this figure reaches to 1 kilogram 200 grams from 300 grams. Minimum wage is 1400 liras. A kilo of meat costs 70 liras. These are all effective in bread consumption.