BY BESTENIGAR KARA
The apiculture company BEE’O Propolis aims to increase its number of export countries to over 100 in the next five years, according to Food Engineer (MSc) Dr. Asli Elif Tanugur Samanci, Founding Partner of BEE’O Propolis. “We previously exported to 14 countries. Now we can export to 30 countries, we’ve added nearly 15 new countries to our portfolio since last year,” Samanci said.
BEE’O Propolis, which was founded by Dr. Asli Elif Tanugur Samanci, Prof. Dr. Dilek Boyacioglu, and MSc in Agricultural Engineering Apiculture Specialist Taylan Samanci in 2013 on an area of 40 square meters at ITU ARI Teknokent, produces and releases market apicultural products such as food, food supplement, dermo-cosmetics. It has over 100 formulas. The company also produces the highly regarded Anatolian propolis patented at home and abroad, including in the U.S. It extracts the Anatolian propolis with its patented technologies and transforms it into water-soluble drops and propolis drops. “Thus, all of our products are natural and rich in terms of antioxidants. We are increasing our product range in the cosmetics and food supplement business lines as well,” Samanci added.
The venture, which has diversified its production and expanded its market in Sancaktepe Istanbul over the years, raised its production area from 6,100 square meters to 10,500 square meters including an R&D center in 2021 with an investment of around TRY 50m, TRY 35m of which consisted of additional infrastructure investment and the remainder was machinery and equipment investment. “We relocated due to increasing demand and insufficient capacity of our facility. We put into use our medical device production department and built it in a clean way. We’ve nearly doubled our production capacity with additions to our filling and processing lines. Now, our capacity can meet our 5-year sales projections at minimum,” Samanci said. Thanks to the increased capacity, BEE’O Propolis can supply its output to other companies that want to sell propolis. “We can positively respond to the demand for private labels,” she noted.
FOCUS ON THE UK IN 2023
BEE’O Propolis already has distribution and consumer group at home, but the consumer group of the company rapidly grows abroad because the company records more than half of its turnover from exports. In the coming period, BEE’O Propolis primarily plans to develop its penetration into the existing export markets while it also aims to enter new countries. “We continuously attend international fairs and conferences to expand our network and evaluate the demand we receive,” Samanci said, stressing that they want to add 10 new countries to the portfolio of BEE’O Propolis next year.
BEE’O Propolis, which operates with its ‘Bee and You’ brand abroad, has two subsidiaries in Europe and the U.S. which are also the largest export markets of the venture. The company makes its overseas investments mainly in marketing and branding. “We plan to increase the visibility and penetration of our Bee and You brand in the U.S. and European markets. We’ll also grow the target audience using our products. But the UK market will be our biggest investment next year,” Samanci noted. She also emphasized that this operation increases its brand value and foreign sales.
Touching on the increasing recognition of propolis and propolis products, Dr. Asli Elif Tanugur Samanci said the consumer group has significantly risen with the pandemic and the propolis market is growing around the world. “Propolis is a wellknown product in some markets,” she added. Propolis, which has already been known and used in European countries such as Italy, Spain, and Romania, is also consumed by a certain audience in the U.S. As Samanci says, there is a long way to go to promote propolis. “China, the U.S., Europe, as
well as Korea and Japan are the countries where the propolis market is rapidly growing. We have visibility and existence in Korea and Japan, and we’ll continue to increase it,” Samanci highlighted.
AMONG THE TOP FIVE VALUE-ADDED MANUFACTURERS
BEE’O Propolis is the top largest company with the highest value-added apicultural products manufacturing in Turkey, Europe, and the MENA (Middle East and North Africa), while it is among the top five countries in the world with the highest level of apicultural products production, according to Asli Elif Tanugur Samanci. She said the turnover of BEE’O Propolis has surged by over 50% from last year to date. “We’ll continue this growth rate. We’ve focused to strengthen our infrastructure and raise capacity with investments. We expect higher growth in 2023 by concentrating on our branding work,” Samanci added. The company also estimates to catch the same growth rate in terms of turnover. “We aim to increase our annual turnover to USD 20m,” Samanci noted.
BEE’O Propolis develops highly regarded Anatolian propolis, royal jelly, cerago, bee bread, and raw honey, as well as shots, syrups, sprays, blends, and skin care products from the material that it purchases from contractual beekeepers across Turkey. While products from only 10 beekeepers were bought at the company’s founding, the company now has a relationship with 5,500 beekeepers, including 550,000 hives. Anatolian propolis, which is collected from these beekeepers, is transformed into innovative value-added products using a unique R&D method developed at ITU ARI Teknokent.
“Our beekeepers easily meet our existing capacity. The number of beekeepers will increase as long as our capacity and sales rise. The amount of product we purchase from our existing beekeepers will also surge. We have beekeepers who started with 50 hives nine years ago and hold nearly 8001,000 hives now. Thus, we support our stakeholders and contribute to their development while we develop ourselves,” she said.
BEE’O Propolis operates with a contractual beekeeping model which develops the business of beekeepers. As part of the system, the company gives a guarantee of purchase at a higher price to beekeepers, who have continued to collaborate with the firm for years. Moreover, the company, which created a Sustainable Beekeeping Fund, collects 1% of the revenue it obtains from the products sold at the market, under this fund. “We give back this money as a new hive to our beekeepers once a year. Thus, we donate a new hive to our beekeepers every year. In line with our revenues, the figure may rise to two or three. We’ll continue this implementation,” Samanci said.
On the other hand, universities are other stakeholders of BEE’O Propolis, which is also an approved R&D center by the Industry and Technology Ministry. “We are a strong company in the university-industry collaboration (UIC). We have clinical, doctoral, and master’s degree studies that we conducted with 20 universities. These studies are published when they are completed. We’ll increase their number and continue to collaborate with them,” Samanci said, noting that they are open to requests from universities and positively approach them.
NGOs are the other stakeholders of BEE’O Propolis. The company collaborates with associations to support women’s entrepreneurship, sustainable agricultural production, and ecology. “For example, I established the Sustainable Agriculture and Ecology Association. Through these associations, we’ll continue to support our female entrepreneurs, develop apiculture in Turkey and further teach apiculture and carry out all the work we can to ensure sustainability in agricultural production.”
HEALING FOR ALL MOTHERS
Dr. Asli Elif Tanugur Samanci was excited to be a new mother, but her son had a fever a few times a month and had to continuously take antibiotics from when he was 11 months old. When he was five years old, a severe allergy developed due to these antibiotics, and he couldn’t use these treatments anymore. The family tried its utmost to seek out different doctors. One of the doctors diagnosed him with the autoimmune disease ‘Henoch-Schönlein Purpura’. The doctor who examined him said this disease is caused by the attack of the immune system cells on the walls of the vein as a result of increased immunity. Dr. Asli Elif Tanugur Samanci started to research scientific studies and medical publications. She saw that propolis and royal jelly are used against frequent infections and to strengthen immunity naturally around the world. She also saw that these products weren’t produced in Turkey and decided to manufacture them for her son since most of these products were coming from China. Six months after he started using propolis extract and royal jelly produced by Samanci, he didn’t have an allergic reaction or fever. His immunity also increased. When she saw this healing, she wanted to deliver this to all mothers and decided to become an entrepreneur.
KICKED OFF BEE VENOM PRODUCTION IN TURKEY
►BEE’O Propolis has recently developed royal jelly skin care serums and creams. “This is the first in Turkey and the world. We’ve developed antiaging serums and cream formulas that contain bee venom, royal jelly, and patented Anatolian products. We worked in total with three different universities and a Polish university on this,” Dr. Asli Elif Tanugur Samanci said.
►Moreover, BEE’O Propolis also manufactured a Health Ministry-approved nasal spray that contains propolis. “It is sold at pharmacies. It has a medical device status and can be used in the treatment of nasal congestion. We also saw that it is effective in the treatment of allergic rhinitis, according to our clinical study which is about to the completed,” Samanci noted
►The company has recently developed an easily consumable shot formula that contains collagen and patented Anatolian propolis. “The usage of collagen supplement has recently become popular for articular health and protection of bones. Propolis has also many important benefits for bone health. This product improves skin beauty and is useful for a range of health benefits,” Samanci added.