Competition to Cargill from Adana
Yaşar Kemal, one of Turkey’s most famous writers, depicts the Çukurova prairies near the southern city of Adana in most of his novels. Çukurova is one of the symbols of Adana. As well as the Çukurova, where Yaşar Kemal was an agricultural worker and tractor driver, other things that come to mind when one mentions Adana are cotton, which has been losing its value in the past years, the Adana kebab, the international Sabancı Theater Festival and the Golden Boll Film Festival.
According to Çukurova Development Agency data, Adana ranks ninth in the competitiveness index, 18th in the quality of life index, 16th in branding and innovation and 16th again in commerce and production capacity. The city, which exports $2 billion, imports $3 billion every year.
It is often said that the potential present in Adana is not fully represented statistically. It would not be very hard for its foreign trade volume to reach $10 billion.
The reason for this is that the cotton grown in Çukurova has a rooted tradition. For instance, Oğuz textile is an important supplier for famous companies, such as Zara, Mango, Marks and Spencer and Ann Taylor.
Hüseyin Çomu is both the head of Adana’s Chamber of Commerce as well as the CEO of Sunar Group. His father, Nuri Çomu, was an agriculture engineer and believed in the future of the food industry. He planted corn as an alternative for cotton years ago.
Corn is now the most important product in Çukurova, Hüseyin Çomu said, adding, “Thanks to my father’s farsightedness, we opened new doors to farmers.”
The Sunar Group produces more than 30 products from corn today. They provide one-third of Turkey’s corn oil exports.
I thought corn was used only in salads or for oil, but I learned that the starch of this plant is used in everything from paper to pharmaceuticals.
The Sunar Group’s research and development team has been able to generate a natural carbohydrate called “sorbitol” from corn.
Thus, the sorbitol Turkey had been importing for years has now been produced in Adana for the last six months. “We have come to the stage now where we are able to meet Turkey’s sorbitol demand totally with local resources,” Çomu said.
“Our aim is to develop at least one innovative product every year,” he added.
It is indeed pleasing that this company has set such a target for itself. Sunar has allocated nearly $1 billion to research and development.
As a matter of fact, such a target will make Adana’s competitiveness increase.
Apart from corn, its capacity for processing other oilseeds and grains reaches 1 million tons annually. Sunar Group exports its own brand to over 80 countries in the world.
For example, they are meeting 35 percent of Indonesia’s corn starch needs.
Çomu’s export vision is at the same time the vision of a typical “Anatolian Tiger” that is ready to conquer the world.
I was not too surprised when I heard that the Sunar Group had exceeded the world’s food and agriculture giant American Cargill in the corn starch sector in North Africa and the Middle East.