“Without any doubt, our mills do not produce poor quality flour. A sector that sells flour to the world cannot have that success without producing quality flour. Now, mills can distinguish wheat down to the last detail. In order to reduce cost, bakers use the poorest quality part that we can call wheat pulp. At the end, this is supply and demand business. If you use quality flour, equipment and material, you produce quality bread. If bakers buy quality and expensive flour from the mill, they can produce quality bread.”
Seeing the danger for bread waste since its foundation, EK-MAŞ has tried to draw attention to the bread waste for 40 years. Founded in 1978, EK-MAŞ Food Machine Industry has manufactured its machine with the motto ‘Only quality prevents waste of bread’ and introduced equipment to boost the quality of bakery product manufacturers.
Highlighting that his father founded EK-MAŞ as he perceived waste of bread as a national issue, Semih Bayraktar, the second generation manager, said the reason behind this waste is the use of poor quality material and equipment. General Manager Semih Bayraktar answered our questions on the bread waste, the technology that the sector uses and developments in bakery sector.
Mr. Bayraktar, would you give us some information about your company?
Our company was established in Istanbul in 1978 to manufacture equipment used in bread and bakery production. Since the first day, we act with the motto, ‘only quality prevents bread waste.’ With this aim, we manufacture equipment with universal quality and standard that increases the quality of bakery product manufacturers. As a company, we manufacture trays, tray trolleys, trolleys for loaders and containers. Quality of these products adds value to bread. As EK-MAŞ, we are proud of our quality. When a customer buys products from us, that customer knows very well that they will not experience any problem. Until now, none of our customers suffered.
What do you think about the quality of products being used in today’s Turkish bakery sector?
Unfortunately, the sector uses poor-quality equipment. Craftsmanship and material are not good enough. Particularly, under the counter production is very bad. Semi-professional companies produce mediocre products. From there, many poor quality products are served to the market. The risk of work accident and the loss of product thereby increase. As a company, we manufacture dough-friendly products. For example, after the dough is placed to loaders, the fermentation process starts. After this, trolleys for loaders are put into the oven. With the help of the roller system, the dough is lined up in the oven. There is a one-centimeter difference between our loaders and our rival’s loaders when the dough is fallen into the oven. This difference minimizes the wear, tearing, abrasion and collapse of the dough. The quality of the metal is very important. We use certified Spain metal in our pans. In the market, you can see galvanized and zinc sheet metal. There are some people who coat this metal with Teflon or who even cook on galvanized metal. This can contain carcinogen that can directly affect the human health. Our containers, bread loom and kneading-trough are rustproof. However, we see companies manufacturing this equipment with iron to lower the cost.
In Turkey, on a daily basis 6 million and on a yearly basis 2.1 billion loaves of bread are wasted. It is stated that the cost of this is nearly 1.5 billion liras. How can this be avoided?
This waste can be prevented with quality. This starts with flour. Bakers can take the first step by buying high-quality flour from mills. As you know, mills made progress in technological terms. They can peel off the wheat layer by layer and produce any kind of flour. Unfortunately, our bakers take the part that we call wheat pulp, too. In order to produce bread from this poor quality flour, they add many ingredients. When equipment such as trays, trolleys used in the production phase are not good enough, products are damaged while loading and unloading. Additionally, since good quality products are not used during the fermentation phase, a demandable result cannot be reached. Only if bakery use quality machine; kneading, consistence, cooking and temperature distribution can be homogenous. If they hire qualified and trained staff, the master can determine the fermentation duration. All these are elements in bread waste.
Do you think that Turkish society that perceives bread as holy shows the due respect for bread?
Nowadays, bread goes bad, decayed and soured in the evening even we buy it in the morning. In other words, there is no taste in our bread. If we use quality flour, I am sure that they won’t decay for 2-3 days. When bread got decayed, it goes to waste. If bread is of high quality, has extended the period before going decay and kept its form, there won’t be any waste. No one would dump the thing they paid for, especially if we are talking about something we consider of holy. The other side of the story is that the basis weight is too high for bread. If we lower that, small families or people living alone would not waste.
What do you think about some experts claiming that bread is unhealthy on TV?
If we produce quality bread, comments like ‘bread is unhealthy’ and ‘do not eat bread’ can be prevented. For example, in Germany, bread with vitamin, mineral and protein are produced for kids. We don’t produce such bread or we can rarely see such bread in luxurious neighborhoods. Majority of the public does not have access to such bread. Thus, many experts appear on television to say ‘don’t eat bread.’ Why? Because there are many additives in bread. The quality of flour is poor. Production conditions are not good enough. That’s why experts are right in saying such things.
On the other hand, such controversy would not be raised if we pay enough attention to hygiene and human health. For quality bread; flour, ingredients, the lowering of yeast (too much yeast accelerates the decay), production through more natural methods, the training, quality equipment and right machine are crucial.
You pointed out that bakers play a prominent role in the waste of bread due to the use of poor quality flour. But, Turkey is the top flour exporting country. How can that be possible if the country’s flour is not qualified? What is the reason behind bakers’ use of poor quality flour?
Of course, our mills do not produce poor quality flour. The sector couldn’t have that success if they produced quality products. But bakers buy what we call wheat pulp from the miller. There is no reason to blame millers. This is supply and demand market. For example, if you want to buy rye bread, whole wheat bread or brown bread, you would see that the price goes up since they use expensive and quality flour. The same mills provide that flour, too. The main substance in bread is flour, nothing else.
PRICE RISE WOULD INCREASE QUALITY OF BREAD
In this case, we cannot blame flour producers. They are marketing the flour with various quality choices. Bakers buy the poorest quality flour because it is cheap.
Flour given to bakery shops should be determined according to certain criteria. That is to say, it should be provided according to some certain range. There is nothing wrong with mills. Bakers should be prevented from buying poor quality flour. You can constrain bakers so that they can buy quality bread. The price of bread is way low in Turkey compared to any other country. You can also compare prices of transportation, water and tea. A glass of tea is around 1,5-2 Turkish liras. A loaf of bread that three people can eat is for 1 Turkish lira. There is an imbalance here. In Istanbul transportation cost of families is much higher than bread. In order for bakers to make profit, they need to do something. So, in order to sell bread for 1 Turkish lira, they have to produce it around 60-70 kurus. While producing bread, there are lots of cost items. Rent, personnel, material, equipment and fuel oil are the first ones that come to mind. So, in order to be afloat, they have been looking for a way. Thus, they directly incline with the cheapest raw material. They are looking for ways to produce more cheaply. Also, since they do not gain money, they cannot update their deformed and outdated technological equipment. They have to gain money. In order to eat quality bread, the price has to increase. I am not saying that it should be 3 or 5 liras. But it should not be 1 lira either. When you have that rise, bakers can buy quality flour and material. In this way, we will have quality bread and we will prevent waste of bread.
WE ARE NO DIFFERENT THAN EUROPE IN TERMS OF QUALITY
Can you share the story behind ‘only quality prevents waste of bread’ with us?
Our company is founded by Hasan Bayraktar, my father. Originally, we were producing just pallets and tray trolleys. We adopted quality since our foundation. We wanted to tell our customers with our motto, ‘only quality prevents waste of bread’, that, if you use quality equipment, bread will not be wasted. That is because if you have quality equipment, you will get quality production. We have been manufacturing our products for 40 years with this motto. We reflected our company’s culture and point of view to this. Through this, we brought bread waste to the country’s agenda. We moved forward with the idea that if we produce quality products, the baker who buy our products can produce quality bread.
That is all well and good but bread waste is still one of the biggest problems?
Yes, that is right. Turkey is a Muslim country that treats bread as holy. It is painful to observe this waste despite being forbidden by religion. This issue usually has been brought up to the country agenda. Still, a great quantity of bread is wasted.
Do you export your products?
We export our products to many countries. Our market share in foreign countries has been increasing every day. We export our products to many countries in Europe and Central Asia. We have exported to even the USA. We sold our quality products. We are no different than Europe in terms of quality. We can easily compete against prominent companies in Europe.