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Export champion on aquaculture eyes on world leadership

Orhan Kılıç, CEO of Kılıç Holding: “Today, our journey in the aquaculture sector, starting from Bodrum, has approached $ 200 million with exports to more than 60 countries across 5 continents. This performance has made us the export champion at the Aquaculture and Animal Products Sector for 8 consecutive years.”


Orhan KILIÇ – CEO, Kılıç Deniz

Kılıç Deniz, one of the leading companies in the aquaculture sector, broke a record with $160 million export in the Aquaculture and Animal Product category and became the export champion in 2017. The company, which is the largest producer of sea bream and sea bass in the world with a capacity of 65 thousand tons, is exporting 70% of its production to 60 countries the USA and Russia being in the first place.

Orhan Kılıç, CEO of Kılıç Deniz, a child of a fishermen family from Bodrum, has founded his company 28 years ago as a small business; but now this company eyes the top spot in the world. We talked to Orhan Kılıç, whose company has been quickly climbing to the top spot at its sector and has now become the largest in Turkey and Europe and one of the leading aquaculture companies of the world, to listen to his story on becoming a world leader from a small company and his expectations from the sector.

Mr. Kılıç, as a holding, your company serves in aquaculture and is one of the most successful ones in this sector. First of all, could you tell us about your investment decision in this sector? How did you start working in this sector?
I started my business career with vegetable and fruit production. My first export was to France and I sold tomatoes. At the same time, we exported orange and mandarin orange that were grown in Bodrum. After we realized that fishes were running short at seas, we turned to aquaculture sector to sustaining our family occupation. Following my researches in Japan and Norway, I took the first step in aquaculture by launching a small company at Salih Island. The sea bream capacity of this facility was 30 tons per year.

As a company with quarter-century history, where do you see yourself on the aquaculture market? How much did you progress on issues such as facilities and capacity?
When I look back, I see that I have made the right investment and taken the right decision. My company grew rapidly. Kılıç Deniz Ürünleri Üretimi İhracat İthalat Ticaret A. Ş., founded in 1991, now produce seed fishery and harvesting fishery and feed and carry out processing, packaging and sales. It meets its own needs, has become an integrated facility and manages all the process from beginning to the end. In the meantime, we reached a capacity of 65 thousand tons per year. Now, Kılıç is among the most respected organizations not only in Turkey but also Europe.

You have become the export leader in the industry for 8 consecutive years. How many countries do you export to? In which market are you most active?
We are the number one aquaculture company in both Turkey and Europe and we are among the leading companies of the world. Kılıç Deniz ranked the first in the category of Aquaculture and Animal Products with 2017 exports. As Kılıç Deniz, with the aim of contributing to Turkish economy in 2017, we realized an export of $160 million. We experience the joy and pride of being the leader of our own category in exports. We sell Mediterranean fish with a Turkish brand to a total of 60 countries including Germany, Bulgaria, France, Netherlands, Greece, and the Dominican Republic. We have become very active especially in Europe market. One out of every three consumed sea bass and sea breams in Europe are from Turkey and purchased under a Turkish brand name. Our pride is indescribable. We have already went beyond the borders of Turkey and Europe in the export of aquaculture.

Do you have any studies towards opening up to new markets?
Our aim is to become the leader of the world. With seed fish exports that we realized last August to the Dominican Republic, we shipped 1.2 million fish to the American market, an important market following Europe. This is a first and a very important success for our country and Kılıç Deniz. As Kılıç Deniz, we have to progress through increasing targets in terms of both investment and sales every year. This is because we are the leader and followed in aquaculture production at two big markets such as Turkey and Europe. This increases our responsibility with regard to both investment and production.

As a company, how is your relationship with the ultimate consumer? How can they reach your products?
With the mission of making contributions to the growth of healthy generations, we believe that the consumption of fish should increase. With this thought in mind, we put Kılıç Market into service. As one of the milestones in this way, we have opened a fish market in Bodrum and Izmir’s Bostanlı for the public. In the medium and long term, we want to increase the number of markets and have country-wide reach. As a consequence, we can reach more people and can increase the average annual fish consumption per capita.

Did the increased consciousness towards healthy eating have any effect on fish consumption amount? What do you think about eating habits in Turkey?
As a result of increased consciousness towards healthy eating in Turkey and around the world, the share of consumption of aquaculture products has increased in the overall fish consumption. The growth of our industry and our company at such a rapid pace promises a bright future for us. In the coming period, we will continue our investments in Anatolia and overseas countries.

You met your feed need from feed facilities built within the company’s own organization. What can you tell us about Kılıç Yem’s activities?
Our feed factory produces fish feeds for only some particular species. The facility, built in 2003, produces feed for red sea bream, tilapia, shi drum, sharp snout sea bream, king fish, turbot and dentex varieties as well as sea bream, sea bass and trout. We produce feeds with a capacity of 160 thousand tons.

What would you tell us about the technologies you use in your production facilities?
We operate in all production facilities with state-of-the-art processing machines. We believe that it is indispensable for sustainable production to protect the environment and nature. With this awareness and responsibility understanding, we also place great importance on reducing carbon emissions in our production. In minimizing the “carbon footprint,” we believe that the trend towards renewable energy sources should be at the maximum level. We transform our investments in our country and abroad taking this into account; we plan our new investments accordingly.

What would you say about your activities in aquaculture sector?
As a company, we have entered the aquaculture sector with a capacity of 30 tons. Today we are the leader in the sector with an annual production capacity of 65 thousand tons and an export volume reaching 160 million dollars. In 60 countries, we meet the fish needs of 150 million people in total. We aim to increase our export volume by opening our facility with 20 thousand tons of sea bream and sea bass in Mersin at the end of 2018.

In our previous article titled ""Exporting companies should be more sensitive to protect the image of the country"" information is given about "feed planet, Mevlut oral ve oryem".

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