Elif ERGU-SATURDAY CATS
Panda, Turkey’s leading industrial ice cream brand, is growing rapidly in the Balkan countries. Explaining that they made their first export to Cyprus in 1991, Vedat Bahar, the founder of Panda, said: “We are one of the top 3 brands loved and recognized in the Balkans. Our brand is very popular in the Balkans. The Balkans love Panda,” he said.
VEDAT Bahar is the founder of Panda. Vedat Bahar, who founded the ice cream brand 33 years ago, owns Turkey’s largest ice cream company with 100% Turkish capital. Vedat Bahar, the founder of Turkey’s first industrial ice cream brand, told this adventure for the first time.
You were a textile worker. How did you find the ice cream brand?
– I was the child of a family of industrialists. We have always been interested in trade. My grandfather, my father and I are textile manufacturers. I was the representative of the 3rd generation of the family. We have productions in all fields of textiles for years. We were producing from men’s underwear to tulle curtains, from wrinkle-resistant shirt fabric to swimwear fabric. The works, in particular the textile works, are still in progress. But I’m out of this business. Then I started my own business. I left the textile industry and continued my professional life.
How did you come up with the idea of getting into ice cream production?
– It intrigued me every time I traveled abroad. I have always been interested in the food sector and studied it. My greatest pleasure abroad was to visit the markets, to see what is and what is not. During these years, the trade in industrial ice cream was developing in all the countries of Europe. Seeing the lack of packaged ice cream in Turkey, I decided to enter the ice cream industry. There were no other ice creams except Atatürk Orman Çiftliği ice cream, ice cream in cinemas and Memo ice cream in Izmir.
In what year did you start exactly?
– We started ice cream production under the name of HAS Gıda in 1984 with 100% Turkish capital. The fact that the product was ice cream and I was very excited to be involved in producing a food that people enjoy. Because here we were going to give people a feeling of joy and joy. It is a fact that no matter when we consume ice cream, it is a product that makes people happy every moment of the day. There is no age limit, ice cream makes everyone happy. When you eat, you feel good, you reward yourself with ice cream.
Who named the panda?
– I put it. I tried to choose a word that can be easily pronounced by consumers, has two syllables, is friendly and has the same meaning in all languages. I chose the name Panda because it matched the personality and spirit of the brand. I am also very satisfied with the perception it has created on the consumer for 33 years.
You didn’t have an opponent at the start, was it difficult then or is the current environment difficult?
– At first there was uncertainty. Sales of industrial ice cream were very weak. We had a very successful ad campaign in our early days. In 1984, there was only one channel. We have innovated. It was difficult, but we succeeded in a short time, then the biggest ice cream company in the world entered Turkey in 1990. We found ourselves in the competition. Since this job is my dream, I have always embraced the job.
So you can say that you have achieved your dream…
– My dreams never end. Even if you give me another 100 years, my dreams will still not be exhausted. I have no limit to this. That’s why I can’t draw a limit to my dreams on the brand.
FIRST EXPORT TO CYPRUS
There is a problem in the export of dairy products. You cannot ship anywhere. How is your export going?
– We made the first export to Cyprus in 1991. We export to many neighboring countries of Turkey, including the Balkans and Northern Cyprus. There is a large overseas consumer base that also supports our brand. We cannot ship to EU countries and Azerbaijan. We are one of the top 3 brands loved and recognized in the Balkans. Our brand is very popular in the Balkans. Balkan people love Panda.
If the problem of exporting dairy products with the EU is solved, will Panda have a chance to develop?
– I don’t think it can be exported to EU, there are many brands there. North Africa could be good for ice cream producers. Exports to Azerbaijan have also ceased. According to the laws there, they don’t buy ice cream in Turkey.
Are there offers to recruit you or become a partner?
– Offers are coming. If there is a good offer, we don’t look cold.
CONSUMPTION PER PERSON 4 LITERS
Although the climate is very favorable in Turkey, the consumption of ice cream is low. Does this appeal to you too?
Yes, ice cream consumption is low in Turkey. There is a consumption of 4 liters per person per year. This is actually an estimate. America and Australia consume the most ice cream. The third country is Canada. It has nothing to do with the cold, it has to do with the culture. In our society, it is understood that if consumed in winter, it will make you sick.
How is consumption in other countries?
America consumes 25 liters, Scandinavian countries about 17 liters, EU countries consume 12 liters of ice cream per person. There are several ways to go to Turkey.