By HUSNIYE GUNGOR
“I do not look like his father, do I?” That is how Mevlut Buyukhelvacigil, the third generation representative of the 135 year-old Helcavizade Group starts our zoom interview, which he attends with his son, Taha Buyukhelvacigil. He does not indeed, and not just by his looks, either, but also the enthusiasm he has for the company’s newest venture in food supplements. As CEO of Zade Global, he is the one tasked with launching the Zade Vital brand into one of the world’s biggest wellness markets from their their U.S. base in Chicago, after managing production for the last 30 years. Contrary to expectations, his son Taha runs production back in the country as the general manager of the company.
Exporting to 15 countries including the U.S., Zade Vital entered the Macedonian market during the pandemic, just after Spain opened the doors to the European market at the beginning of the year, which is expected to increase exports by 100% by the end of the year. The pandemic also increased awareness of the immune system in Turkey and the penetration of supplement consumption jumped from 5% to 55 %, resulting in more shifts and additional employment for the company.
Through Zade Vital, health is the latest entry of the Helvacizade Group, whose foundations were laid with halva and confectionery production in the central Anatolian city of Konya back in 1888. Operating in vegetable oil production, R&D and distributorship business lines, the group has invested € 40 million so far in the brand since 2012. After demonstrating its high performance capabilities in the global arena as well as in Turkey, Helvacizade Group is expecting a breakthrough this year with Zade Vital.
Bulgaria and Qatar markets
With the completion of the two-year license permit period, Spain became the first market in which Zade Vital entered EU countries, which is expected to increase exports by 100 percent this year. “At this point, our effective marketing in the U.S. will also help us to meet this target” says Taha Buyukhelvacigil.
The company has also been exporting to Afghanistan since 2019. “Iraq is also a big market,” he adds. “Vital Paharma is our distributor in Bagdad and Erbil. We are in the licensing process in Bulgaria and Qatar. We will reach Qatari consumers through its biggest pharmacy chain, which has 68.8% market share.”
20 percent of production exported
In the vitamin, diet and herbal products market, 32 countries represent 80 percent of total consumption. China takes first place with annual sales of USD 24.1bln and has built its market to favor domestic producers with protective measures (like very long license periods). The U.S. ranks second at USD 17.9bln and Japan third at USD 10.8bln. Exports to 17 countries, including the U.S., now account for 20 percent of Zade Vital’s total sales, with USD 15mln worth of exports in 2019.
Sales volume triples with pandemic
Despite his new role in the U.S for global marketing, Buyukhelvacigil the senior has 30-year of expertise in production. He states that black cumin is the locomotive of the healthy nutritional support category as it has also been proven in clinical studies, and the demand for the product has increased after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sales volumes have increased three-fold, especially in products that support the immune system, he says. After increasing work shifts at its Konya facility to three, the compnay added 25 new people to its 280 employees, making it the highest-capacity pharmaceutical production facility in Europe with a one billion-capsule annual production.
3-digit growth for 2020
Noting that there is a 10% increase in demand for Zade Vital products in the local market, Mevlut Buyukhelvacigil says: “There is also a high demand in the market for Sambucus (elderberry extract) containing vitamin C and zinc, probiotic daily and Nigefix and 100% natural nasal spray used in upper respiratory infections. Zade Vital has also accelerated production of Vitamin C, Sambucus and Multivitamin effervescents and Sambucus syrup, which are still being studied, and has started to market them through pharmacies.” With this increasing performance in the domestic market, he expects 3-digit growth this year.
Taking the floor from his father, Taha says that they created competition in the market with black cumin oil. “In 2012, the market for this oil was TRY 50,000. As a price maker, we have now opened the doors of a growing market. Black cumin oil came to the fore on market shelves. In 2016, phytotherapy with black cumin oil became stronger in our country. We are now 19th among 350 companies in IMS.”
The next step for Zade Vital will be entering the beauty segment, he notes. And he believes that Zade Vital will become the market leader in its field in its 10th year with university collaborations, R&D investments and new product categories.
A century of globalization
1888 – The familiy enters the industry with halva and confectionery
1950s – Entering retail product distribution and wholesale food business
1989 – Vegetable oil factory foundation is laid
1991 – Oil factory starts production
1994 – Zade oils starts begins exports to many countries such as Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Belgium, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Georgia and Saudi Arabia.
1999 – Zade Vital R&D and science board is established
2012 – Zade Vital goes into operation after conducted studies
2013 – The Natural Products Research Application Center DUAMER is established in Zade facilities.
2015 – DUAMER is recorded as Turkey’s 200th R&D center in its field by the Ministry of Industry and Technology
2017 – Zade Global Inc commences operations in Chicago
2018 – An additional production facility is added to the factory in Konya.
2019 – Exports to the U.S. market begin with Zade Global
Who is Mevlut Buyukhelvacigil, PhD
Born in Konya in 1961, Mevlüt Büyükhelvacıgil graduated from the Departments of Business Administration of Selçuk University and Eskişehir Anadolu University. He completed his master’s degree and submitted his PhD thesis in “Institutionalization and Constitutional Practices in Family Businesses” at Preston University in the U.S. In 1989, he began working on the Zade Vegetable Oil Refinery Plant, the first refinery in Konya, which began production in 1991. In 2003, he launched the high-technology II Oil Refinery and Integrated Facility with human error-free PLC automation systems. Under the leadership of Dr. Mevlüt Büyükhelvacıgil and with advanced technology, quality system certification and R&D, Zade is ranked among the world’s leading organizations in its field.
“There are 11,707 species of plants in Turkey, 3,150 of which are endemic. This strong potential constitutes Zade Vital’s greatest competitive strength. We currently benefit from 80 endemic plants and our goal is to reach 2,000 for use in our products. We conduct our activities by taking natural vegetation into consideration through controlled and contracted agriculture. We leave what is in nature in nature. We produce services with our team of 50 scientists within the Ege University Drug Development and Pharmacokinetics Research-Application Center and our own R&D center. We get products from 38 different points in 7 regions of Turkey.”