Mapping the Turkish Agri-Food Ecosystem 2021

Part II-Turkey Food Ecosystem

Kök Projekt presents: Turkey Food Ecosystem Map 2021

Virginia Woolf, in her famous book “A Room of One’s Own,” wrote  that “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”  These words mention the importance of food in our daily lives. Today we know that food has a vital role in our everyday lives and also in our health and environment. Therefore, there is an inseparable relationship between food, environment, and health. At Kök Projekt, as a startup accelerator, we are fascinated with this relationship and how it shapes the world. Thus, we follow the trends in the food sector ecosystem, prepare reports, and create databases. 

We are thrilled to be part of this ecosystem and its development.

Each year we see new players who join the food ecosystem to create a better one. Last year, when we created the Turkish Food Ecosystem Map 2020, our vision was to shed light on Turkey’s food ecosystem and make startups more visible. We used a data-driven methodology to identify and categorize startups and partnered with the Patent effect to find patentpreneurs. In the food sector, where players, dynamics and trends are changing at dizzying speed, keeping up with the sector’s stakeholders is vital to understand it, so we created the Turkish Food Ecosystem Map Version 2021. 

Food and It’s Challenges 

Our food system faces many difficult questions, how to feed  a population set to hit 9 billion people by 2050? How to create a more balanced agri-food ecosystem and end hunger? How can technology help tackle climate change in a world experiencing unprecedented heat waves, droughts, and record-breaking floods? And how to reduce the food waste, equal to ⅓ of all food produced for human consumption? 

These questions are not changing in different parts of the world. Food is  universal as well as its challenges. We have to transform our food system and the way we produce and consume our foods.

In Turkey, we live in one of the most fertile lands with a wide variety of riches in the world. We have a huge notable kitchen tradition. The famous recommended Mediterranean diet is at the heart of our practices. Anatolia is the cradle of many crops. Moreover,  Turkey is the world’s largest manufacturer of hazelnuts, cherries, figs, apricots, quinces, and pomegranates. However, we are not exempted from the challenges mentioned above. These problems have many solutions, and one of them is technology. Even if technology is not a silver bullet, we believe that startups can solve some of our food system’s biggest problems. Combined with the expertise of corporates, entrepreneurship may further help create a sustainable future for food systems. Therefore, we believe that startups and corporate companies are vital players for a sustainable ecosystem. 

Thus, this map acts as an overview of the Turkish food ecosystem outlining startups and corporate companies.

Startups: Planting the future of food

At Kök Projekt, we follow startups carefully; we are an agri-food startup accelerator. Turkey has a rapidly growing startup ecosystem. Even the Financial Times mentioned that Turkey  became a star of European tech(1), and the food startup scene is picking up massive momentum. Entrepreneurs are lucky to have so many resources and to operate in a country, with more than 80 million people  which is a perfect place to test their products. 

Food is changing; entrepreneurship, technology, synergies between players are essential to its revolution. At Kök Projekt, we know that every startup contributes to a more sustainable, efficient, and resilient food chain. We believe in the Turkish food startup ecosystem and trust that we will see more startups that become meaningful or sizable businesses each year. The news keeps us hopeful for the future. For the last several months, we have seen exciting and inspirational developments for food entrepreneurship in Turkey. Biftek.co is among  the Top 45 startups selected for FoodBytes Pitch Virtual 2021! Based on their innovative solutions, The cohort is among the best and brightest companies pioneering breakthroughs in CPG, food tech, and agtech. Moreover, Getir, an on-demand delivery company, expanded its operations in several countries such as France, Netherlands and UK. These are just a few of the good news from the Turkish food startup ecosystem.

As we began to create our map, we commenced from our startup databases for Turkey.  We categorized the teams, looked for their primary purpose or value proposition, then organized them accordingly. Eventually, we placed them into 16 categories and listed them on our map. We aimed to provide a clear understanding of each player. When we looked at the categories Food Service Platforms/Restaurant management/Payment Services, and Performance Foods/Nutrition/Snacks categories immediately stand out as the leading categories in Turkey. There is a proliferation of startups that have developed products that aim to improve human health. Plant-based products, drinks and foods rich in probiotics and other functional ingredients such as algae and collagen are rising. E-Commerce platforms and Delivery are other shining categories. 

Moreover, startups aim to reduce waste gain importance as the climate crisis allows them to have a grand narrative. They work under different categories such as inventory optimization/food redistribution, upcycling, biotech, holistic waste management, and biodegradable packaging. You will see many more categories on our map.

On our next step, we worked closely with Patent Effect. This team supports technology-driven companies and research institutes to unleash the power of patents for creating an impact on their innovation journey, to define the Patentpreneurs: Startups who have at least one patent/utility model application.

Corporates: Key Players of the Sector

Turkey has a vast potential for the food sector. Thus, there are many national and international firms operating in it. As Kök Projekt, we are an innovation partner for the food, agriculture, and water sector companies. Therefore, we follow and work with them closely. 

Corporations understand that innovation is at the heart of the sector, and they do their best not to miss the opportunities. As such, the rising demand for healthy ingredients, product sourcing transparency, and sustainability have an impact on corporates’ decisions. They have become active supporters of the startup ecosystem. Many corporate firms are diving into the startup ecosystem and getting involved with entrepreneurs, startup companies. They organize and sponsor events and support incubator and accelerator programs to reap the benefits of innovation. Hence in our map, we have categorized corporate firms into four sections as well.

You can reach our 2021 Turkish Food Startup & Corporate Ecosystem Map here.

Quick Disclaimer

This is obviously not an exhaustive list of all startups and corporate companies in the Turkish Food Ecosystem.

 

Below is an overview of each category

Performance Foods/Nutrition/Snacks: Startups focusing on healthy eating with their new types of meals in the form of bars or powders. Most of them offer transparent ingredients with vegan options.

Food Service Platforms/Restaurant Management/ Payment Services: Startups reinventing the restaurant industry, including restaurant management platforms and payment services.

CPG-Plant Based: Startups developing food products based on plants. Vegan products, including sauces, seasonings, and healthy nutrition options.

CPG-Animal Based: Startups developing food products based on animals by respecting animal welfare.

CPG-Beverages: Startups reinventing drinks. Including healthier lifestyle drinks, sustainable coffee options, and plant-based milk.

Marketplace/E-Commerce: Startups working in e-commerce marketplaces for consumers. Including platforms enabling direct access from producers to consumers.

Food Protection/Food Waste Management: According to FAO, 1/3 of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted. Food waste is a big challenge for the food industry. In this category, we put startups working on to diminish food waste, including solutions that extend shelf life and smarter and sustainable packaging.

Coaching-Recipes/Recommendations: Startups helping customers in their search for good recipes or nutrition recommendations. It also includes startups providing quality information on food products and transparency.

FoodTech: Startups disrupting food production. Alternative protein solutions such as lab-grown meat, insect protein, etc. Startups are working on biotech for advanced, smarter food options.

Meal Kits: Startups regularly delivering to their customers. Including weight-loss kits, options, ingredients or ready to cook kits to make meals at home.

Cloud Kitchen: Startups managing kitchens, food production facilities without a physical restaurant space, and producing foods for customers. Maide Mutfak is one of them and it is our venture. Maide Mutfak operates as a cloud kitchen and aims to empower the women who are living within disadvantaged communities to become successful entrepreneurs that they are destined to. As Kök Projekt we are passionate about food and we are physically engaged with it with our venture Maide mutfak.

Pet Food: Startups reinventing pet food with more nutritious options.

Microgreens: Startups working on microgreens to provide healthier nutrition for their customers. They enable customers to plant their own food in their home.

Food Concepts: Startups focusing on concept restaurants such as vegan restaurants.

Delivery: Startups offering urgent answers for delivery challenges of the food sector. It includes restaurant delivery, home delivery of drinks, food, and fast delivery options.

SOURCES

Financial Times, How Turkey Became a star of European Tech?, 12 August 2021, https://www.ft.com/content/1010e729-a33f-4fd8-acd6-e5391bca45e0