From Past to Today with Sağdıçlar
Serkan Malay: As Sağdıçlar Balıkçılık, you have a history filled with accomplishments and you are still in a leading position within the industry presently. Can you tell us a little bit about your success stories?
Veysel Sağdıç: The foundations of Sağdıçlar Balıkçılık were laid in 1983 when my brother Hüseyin Sağdıç first came to Istanbul from Erzincan to work at the fish market in Kumkapı. Throughout his career life ranging from working as a porter to working as a middleman for selling fruits and vegetables, Hüseyin Sağdıç expanded his business as a result of his reliability and the support provided by his family and in 1995, he opened his first office at Kumkapı Fish Market together with his siblings. With the enterprise we established in our father’s name and the harmony, loyalty and respect among us as siblings, we established Sağdıçlar Balıkçılık Limited company in 2001. Our company renders a wide range of services and sells a number of different seafood products that are offered as live, cleaned, frozen and cooked. Collaborating with Pınar and Marine Harvest, the leading companies in terms of supplying aquaculture products whether processed or not, both in our country and worldwide, Sağdıçlar Balıkçılık also started managing the fish products sections at Migros, Macrocenter and Balık Ye stores as of November 2004. Since 2008, it has also been supplying fresh fish for Carrefour grocery stores. As Sağdıçlar family, today we are conducting business in fish farming, supermarket, restaurant and software fields.
Serkan Malay: You have been collaborating with Pınar Fish for long years. What is the secret for that?
Veysel Sağdıç: As you know, the brand “PINAR” was introduced in our country in 1973, when the largest milk production facility in the Middle East, Pınar Milk was established. Pınar made numerous investments within the domestic market and gained public’s appreciation by not making concessions from high quality products and service understanding.
As Sağdıçlar, the reasons and the secret of our collaboration with Pınar Fish is, I believe, due to the fact that we speak the same language. The common philosophy behind this language is mutual trust, consultation and consistent business. I believe that our collaboration that is comprised of these common denominators will continue for long years with the same approach and commitment levels.
Serkan Malay: With your restaurant chain, Balık Ye, you ensure that the consumers can afford eating fish easily and for cheap prices. It has come to such a point that even those who do not like eating fish have come to like it because of you. How was this idea developed? Are you planning to open branches outside Istanbul?
Veysel Sağdıç: Since our primary field of activity is selling fish as wholesale and retail, we considered the ways through which we can bring fish together with the consumers and we have decided to establish Balık Ye restaurants. In reality, the major factor for the formulation of this concept had been “Pınar Fish Markets”. As you know, countrywide fish restaurants are located in those places that are situated closer to the seashore.
The main concerns of the consumers about these restaurants are as the following:
- Price policies
- Freshness issues related to the products
- Insufficient product range
- Proximity from residential areas etc.
We aimed to bring the concept of Balık Ye (Eat Fish) together directly with the consumers within the city instead of seashores, in those areas where the residential settlements are more. Without allowing the consumer to think “whether it is expensive?”, away from the atmosphere of a gourmet fish restaurant, we formed a concept that is plain and where people can be mentally comfortable. These concepts were then combined under the scope of fresh fish sales sections and restaurants that have been integrated to each other.
As we are also a wholesale fish seller, the highest quality fish that we purchase each morning for 41 different fresh fish sale points at Balık Ye, Migros Macrocenter and Carrefour stores were then offered to the customers of Balık Ye with our own restaurant concept. Without making our customers to choose from a menu, instead of saying “welcome / what would you like to have-eat?”, we welcomed our customers with a smile and presented our menus that were prepared by professionals. We did not keep our customers away from the prices so that they do not get scared away, on the contrary we tried to build an image to make them ask how this high quality of fish could be as cheap as our prices, we tried to be transparent. Among the fish restaurants that are active in our country, we had become one of the rare enterprises that presents the most diverse products on its menu and has the highest freshness standards.
Our objective is to establish a chain structure that provides the same quality of services all around our country starting primarily in Istanbul under a corporate identity. In relation to our concept “Balık Ye”, our franchising studies have also started.
Serkan Malay: What do you think about the current status of the fisheries industry?
Veysel Sağdıç: In our country, fish consumption per person is around 8 kilograms. This data demonstrates that fish consumption is extremely low in a country with seashore that is 4500 sea miles long, in comparison to many European countries. For the future of the fisheries industry, state support and the incentives provided by the leading companies in the industry are required to raise awareness among the consumers and to increase the consumption rate per person. Each family has to make sure that this type of food, which contributes significantly to our children’s development, enters the kitchen at least twice a week. As fish is particularly rich in phosphorus and minerals, it contributes to the development of our school age children. In general, when we look at the fish consumption in our country, it usually takes place between the start date of the season, which is September 1 and the end date, which is May 1. In comparison, in other European countries, these data can be collected for 12 months throughout the year. Today, we should be able to consume all of the fish that are farmed in fish farms, which are also called aquaculture fish, 12 months a year without any problems. The contribution of these fish that are bred in facilities that are in conformity with international standards and that have really high nutrient values to healthy development is scientifically proven. For this reason, for the development of the industry, we continue to use the slogan “Eat Fish Twice a Week for Healthy Generations”.
Serkan Malay: Where do you think the industry is going? What kind of potential does the future hold?
Veysel Sağdıç: When we look at the recent fish consumption data in our country, we see that the consumption of aquaculture fish have increased rapidly. The reasons for this increase are related to the reduction of the number of fish within the zone where we are fishing and also to the migration of the fish to colder waters due to weather conditions. Parliaments worldwide are adopting decisions related to illegal fishing, and significant funding is allocated for the regulations and projects that aim to protect fish stocks. First of all, I believe that heavy sanctions have to be applied to those individuals and corporations that pollute the sea with factory wastes and other wastes, that exceed the fish length limits and carry out illegal and uninformed fishing activities. A new law that can be adopted to increase the number of marine fish has to facilitate fishing in open seas. If the required permits are provided for fishing in open seas with other new regulations that are also possible to implement, then our seas will be relieved from the intense fishing activities and production will increase in a controlled manner. In general, aquaculture fish consumption and the consumption of industrially packaged products will increase in the long term.
Fish markets will lose their functionality in the coming years in comparison to the past, in our country as well as it is the case worldwide. Aside from the fish markets, several smaller markets and distribution platforms may be established operating on an individual basis. With the increase in aquaculture fish diversity and the production capacities, as well as the increase of industrial consumption and the number of processed, marinated products, other mass consumption channels other than the markets will be established during this process and this will cause the annual fish consumption per person to increase significantly.