Cem Dik is Kemin’s Regional Sales Manager for the Balkans, Turkey, Middle East and Africa. We talked to him about his experiences in the food industry, the unique aspects of the markets he works in and the Kemin way of life.
Name: Cem Dik
Job title: Regional Sales Manager Balkans, Turkey, Middle East and Africa,
Years of service @ Kemin: 5 years
Focus market segment: Bakery, Snacks, Fats &Oils
Can you tell us about yourself and your professional experience?
Cem: I was born in Istanbul, Turkey where I’ve completed my education. First Computer Aided Design, but later I changed to marketing and communication. After I graduated, I started working in the consultancy industry where I’ve focused on managing all kinds of different brands, big and small, in different sectors, helping to position them against their competitors. After several years, in 2007, I took my first steps in the food industry at a global company specialising in baking yeast. That’s how I eventually ended up in a sales position. Later, I had the opportunity to grow and it became my responsibility to manage the entire product management activity in the Middle East & Central Asia Region. A great experience! In 2015, I started working at Kemin Food Technologies. Very soon, I began to learn more about different segments of the food industry and the many different solutions Kemin has to offer. At first, the focus was Turkey, but looking at my background, we decided to extend the region I worked in by including the Middle East, Africa and Balkans.
What’s unique about these markets?
Cem: For example, in the Middle East, there are some of the richest countries in the world, but at the same time some of the poorest. In some African countries, half of the population has no access to electricity. I work in a huge region which is in many cases different from the Western world and a personal relation with the customer is very important because most companies tend to buy from suppliers they know for a long time and they are perceived as long-term partners. The cultural diversity is remarkable and experiencing these differences has been and remains very instructive but also challenging. No two markets are the same.
That means the approach is totally different.
Cem: Exactly. The expectations and the way of doing business is very different. In poor countries, we don’t have to talk about label-friendly products too much. The main objective here is to feed people and extend shelf life with cost-effective solutions. Other countries with more financial means are sometimes even ahead of Europe when it comes to using healthier food ingredients, so we do see an increased demand for natural solutions there. The food industry in Europe is more stable compared to the emerging markets, which makes those markets more interesting for me as a sales manager. And, of course, importation and exportation procedures are very different. In terms of resources and population, the Middle East and Africa have big potential. In fact, in the future, I believe Africa will be the agricultural centre of the world. That’s when opportunities arrive and Kemin business is becoming more important. We offer shelf life and food safety ingredients to the food industry in countries where there’s a big demand for solutions due to storage conditions, for example. And with population increasing in some countries in the Middle East, it’s becoming a hub for expats to work, bringing their own culture and habits, and attracting global brand investors.
Bread and confectionery can be found in every culture around the world. What can you tell us about your role there?
Cem: The bakery market is very competitive. Our target is to help our customers providing quality food products that taste good and are safe, so their brand is trustworthy. Therefore, shelf life and food safety are becoming increasingly important. Our mould inhibitor SHIELD® is a very successful product, efficacious and cost effective. In all the regions I work, they know this product is working and we offer it in both dry and liquid form, ideal for bigger scale industrial bakeries. We can also offer label friendly shelf life extension and food safety solutions with our BactoCEASE® NV or FORTIUM® product range.
With FORTI-FRYTM, Kemin has a very effective product to naturally extend the frying life of oils. How do your markets respond? What types of companies are interested?
Cem: The food industry consumes massive amounts of oil and FORTI-FRY is interesting for two types of customers: oil consumers who want cost effective solutions to use oil for a longer period of time, but also oil producers who sell to the food industry can differentiate in the price competition with better quality frying oil and extension of the frying life. And fried food is becoming more popular because it’s tasty and safe. Think of falafel, for example, or Koeksister and Sambusa in Africa. For fried food, Kemin offers FORTIUM RG20 Liquid natural flavourings.
Kemin is a huge global company, with a local approach. What do you like best about your employer?
Cem: Kemin as a company has a positive mindset and a great future vision. We call it a “journey to transform” the world by offering better nutrition to all living beings. A lot of food companies still work with chemical, synthetic preservatives that are often harmful. Through my job, I can offer the food industry natural, healthier and more sustainable options. Clean label will be the new way of living. The best thing about my position is that, because of the vastness and diversity of my region, I have lots of experiences with many different good relations in these countries. And by seeing their way of life and hearing their opinions, you start to understand the world better.