Aegean businessmen and their agricultural investments

Aegean businessmen and their agricultural investments

Last weekend, I went to İzmir for the opening of the Arkas Art Center. The center featured a large collection with nearly a thousand pieces by local businessman Lucien Arkas.

Arkas is the third generation boss of Arkas Holding - the owner of the biggest container fleet in Turkey. Arkas Holding, which has also added the largest ship with a Turkish flag to its fleet, has a turnover of $1.4 billion in 2010.

I met with Arkas for lunch to discuss the new art center opened in the Kordon district of İzmir. There, we drank a splendid white wine, and I asked about the brand. In the logo on the wine bottle, I saw a Griffin, a mythological creature of half-lion half-eagle, and the initials “LA.” The initials stood for Lucien Arkas, produced at his own vineyards.

LA Wines has such brands as Consensus, Idol, Smyrna, Mon Reve and its production capacity in 2011 is 750,000 liters.

The leading name Arkas in the shipping industry is now a challenger in winemaking.

During the conversation with Arkas, I remembered a talk I had with another Aegean businessman, Keskin Keskinoğlu, a few days ago.

Keskinoğlu is the third-generation owner of the chicken company Keskinoğlu Tavukçuluk, one of the most valuable brands in Turkey. Daily, it produces 4 million eggs and 500 tons of poultry; its 2011 turnover is estimated at $750 million.

With exports to 65 countries, Keskinoğlu alone accounts for 35 percent of Turkey’s chicken exports.

Now, he has a new investment. Similar to America’s KFC, he is launching a chicken fast food chain.

Having opened three of these restaurants in Istanbul and one in the central Anatolian town of Akhisar, Keskinoğlu plans to increase the number of restaurants to 12 next year.

In 2013, he plans to carry the chain, called “Tavvuk,” to other countries. His target markets are Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkmenistan, Dubai, Kuwait and Bahrain. He rightfully believes that from Turkey, which is at a very good spot in terms of chicken production, a brand similar to KFC can emerge.

The most recent addition to Aegean brands is Moova, the new milk and cheese many of us now see on the shelves of major supermarkets.

The Söktaş Group from Aydın invested 115 million Turkish Liras in Moova to produce milk and cheese according to EU standards. A new model had been developed based on training farmers near the Söktaş Farm in Aydın, teaching them modern farming processes and thus creating healthier products.

Moova, which aims to become one of the top two brands in the market by 2015, will also be exported.

It looks like Aegean businessmen seem to have opted to depend on agriculture and livestock in their new investments. Which makes sense, because agriculture is the rising sector in the world