TFIF marks 10th year of event

by Susan Reidy
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The Turkish Flour Industrialists’ Federation (TFIF) marked the 10th anniversary of its International Congress and Exhibition, “Wheat, Flour and Bread: Past, Present and Future,” with its largest ever event.


Nearly 800 delegates from across the world attended the event March 13-16 at the Titanic Deluxe Belek in Antalya, Turkey. The event included 45 exhibitors, and attracted flour industrials, traders and suppliers, mill mechanics and lab workers, bread and other bakery products manufacturers as well as academics and experts from the private and public sectors.

The congress included scientific sessions on the past, present and future of wheat; the flour industry; and the role of bread in nutrition; trade sessions and bilateral discussions; promotional films; and two exhibits, one marketing the 10th anniversary of the event and the second on Göbekli Tepe, where it is believed wheat was first cultivated and bread made.

EXPORTS AND TRAINING

Erhan Özmen, chairman of the TFIF executive board, said in his opening speech that he was happy to note increasing exports of flour from Turkey. Ten years ago, the nation was exporting 780,000 tonnes of flour (wheat equivalent). Last year, Turkey set an all-time record of 2.1 million tonnes, valued at $950 million, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute.

Özmen noted the important roles of the directors of the TFIF; the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock; the Ministry of Economy; the Ministry of Customs and Trade and exporters unions in the success. He said the objective is to increase exports further and improve the image and brand value of Turkish flour to achieve the E.U.’s level of prices.

He said TFIF will work with its supporters to conduct studies within the scope of the project, “Restoration of Bread’s Reputation,” to counteract smear campaigns targeting flour and bread.

Amy Reynolds, senior economist with the International Grains Council (IGC), noted that global wheat production is at record levels with estimates at just over 700 million tonnes for 2013-14. World all-wheat trade is likely to reach a record of 146 million tonnes, led by heavy buying by China.

Flour trade is expected to be up year over year but will not reach record levels seen in 2011-12, Reynolds said. Milling wheat demand is up sharply, but imports for feed are down.

Faik Yavuz, the executive accountant board member, the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey, noted the unutilized capacity in the sector and mentioned the benefits of improved seed quality and enhancing the scope and quality of licensed warehouses.

In the second session, presenters addressed the issue of training. It was emphasized that training is a process and requires the cooperation of the government, universities, the private sector and non-governmental organizations.

The session closed with speeches about the vision for the future of the flour industry, noting that the past, present and future should be assessed together.

NUTRITION

Half of the sessions focused on the nutritional benefits of bread and refuting popular trends that breads and cereals should be avoided. Presenters said cereals have been the primary source of human nutrition throughout history.

They presented scientific evidence refuting claims of weight loss by avoiding breads and cereals, and noted that whole-grain bread and cereals are unique sources to prevent ketosis and eliminate its intensity in a healthy weight-loss diet.

Soluble and insoluble fibers, contained in wheat in large rates, were effective and important for finding solutions for cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and gastrointestinal system problems.

For example, a study on the relationship between grains and diabetes found that an increase in consumption of whole grains decreased the risk of diabetes. Cereal fiber is more effective in decreasing the risk of diabetes compared to other fibers. In addition, the intake of 90 grams of whole grains per day decreases the risk of cancer by 20%.

Natural components in wheat and other cereals, such as tocopherols, carotenoids, phytic acid, glutathione, ferulic acid, tocotrienols, phytoestrogens, isoflavones, lignans and glucose-fructose, play important roles in metabolism, presenters noted.

They emphasized that balance and diversity should be among the main considerations for nutrition and that no food element could lead to miraculous consequences on its own.

Presenters also refuted claims that consumption of whole grains and bread causes obesity. They noted that cereal-based nutrition in the world has been on a decreasing trend in the last 30 years, but obesity rates have been increasing.

Wheat consumption per person in France is 50% more than that in the U.S., but the proportion of obese people is far less in France. Italians consume wheat twice as much as Americans, but the percentage of obese people in Italy is one-fourth of that in the U.S.

Studies on flour also include enrichment attempts. It is possible to make wheat flour healthier and useful for people through enrichment with folic acid and iron, said Dietitian Dilara Koçak with Mezura.

It would be beneficial, presenters noted, to establish an independent scientific authority with the aim of reaching exact information and maintaining consumer trust.

Erhan Özmen, chairman of Turkish Flour Industrialists’ Federation (TFIF), welcomes attendees to the 10th anniversary of the organization’s International Congress and Exhibition. Photo courtesy of TFIF.

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