Kervan Gida’s brands seek to provide moments of joy for the whole family. The company is proud of the reputation it has built over the six years it has operated in the UK.

After growing to become the market leaders of licorice in the cash & carry sector, the company now has its sights set on the grocery sector with a range of innovative gummy products.

Stuart Johnston, UK Managing Director, tells Grocery Trader that Bebeto’s brand essence is about the little things that make life sweeter.

Tell us a little of the history of the company.

Kervan Gida is a family-owned business with 25 years’ experience in the confectionery manufacturing sector. We began producing chewing gum under the Kelo?lan brand in 1995, expanding to create Bebeto three years later. In 2015 our UK office was established, helping to secure our global position in the sugar confectionery market. Believing in the power of localisation in respective markets, we acquired the UK-based Dexters brand in 2017.

What brands does the company supply?

Here in the UK, we own soft candy brands Bebeto and Dexters.

Have both brands delivered growth since then?

Kervan Gida UK has achieved year-on-year growth since its inception in 2015. We continue into 2021 with the same ambition to deliver healthy sales that exceed our forecasts.

Are the company’s products halal certified?

All our products are 100% Halal Certified. We pride ourselves on creating quality confectionery that is accessible to a wide, inclusive audience. In fact, to strengthen our range, we’ve recently launched a new 150g and 190g gummy range. We’ve taken our best-selling gummy shapes and flavours and we’ve mixed, matched, and repackaged them in a bigger bag format. This range includes Fizzy Watermelons, Strawberries, Big Mix and Big Fizzy Mix, available in both price-marked and non-price marked packs. This range is competitively priced and ideal for retailers looking for products in hanging share bag formats.

Are your products BRC certified?

Both of our factories in Izmir and Istanbul are certified BRC A Grade.

Is Kervan Gida concerned with the health credentials of its products? For example, does the production use real fruit juice? Does it use artificial colours?

Health credentials in products are becoming a growing trend. We’re seeing consumers becoming increasingly health conscious and healthy snacks colonising checkouts, so yes, it’s certainly something we are mindful of. Consumers are paying more attention to what they are putting into their bodies. In response, brands like ours are focusing more on quality over quantity.

Low and no sugar alternatives are on the rise. We already have a range of High Fruit Juice and NAFNAC (No artificial colours or flavours) products in our range including our Fruit Snacks, Fruit Hearts and Strawberry Twists. We are also currently developing a range of reduced sugar products to cater for our sugar-conscious consumers.

What do Kervan Gida’s brands stand for? How would you describe the company’s reputation?

Bebeto and Dexters are both youthful, fun, and energetic brands. Our fun flavours and tempting tastes are paramount when developing new products.

Bebeto’s brand essence is all about the little things that make life sweeter. Much like the smell of freshly cut grass or stepping on crisp autumn leaves, our brands provide moments of joy for the whole family. Our brand values are intrinsic to our business; they lead our mission and drive our success. We’re very proud of the reputation we have built over the 6 years that we’ve been in the UK. We’ve grown to become the market leaders of licorice in the cash and carry sector and this year we will be focusing on our grocery offer with a range of innovative gummy products.

How many countries does the company operate in?

Kervan Gida supplies goods to 90 countries worldwide, with offices in the UK, USA, Germany and Russia.

How do you seek to produce better quality sweets?

We are constantly gathering feedback from our consumers and customers to understand areas of improvement. We have an excellent Research and Development team based in Turkey that are at the cutting edge of innovation. Along with our sales and marketing teams, they work continuously to develop and better the quality of our products.

How much is the turnover of the company? How much has the company grown over the last year?

Globally we have sales of more than €100m and our UK business has grown 25% over the past year.

How much has Kervan Gida invested in its UK business since the company began trading in the UK in 2014?

We have invested significantly since 2014 in our infrastructure and brands and this will continue.

Do you manufacture own label brands?

Yes, we have supply agreements with retailers and manufacturers and also distributors to produce private label products.

Do you think there is an opportunity to grow sales of liquorice products in the UK?

I would never describe our products as ‘Liquorice’ in the traditional term, as we have no molasses or liquorice extract in our product formulation. Our ’Licorice’ product is a modern version using the texture of the original but marrying it with a sweet, candy-like formulation. We anticipate excellent growth in the modern licorice category.

Where do you want the company to be in five years’ time?

We are an ambitious company by nature, so we have big plans to grow and expand over the coming years. Our overarching vision is to drive Bebeto to become one of the top five sugar confectionery brands worldwide by 2023.

Although we will continue to innovate and release new products, our short-term strategy is to focus on market development and market penetration. We have some excellent products in our portfolio and our objective over the coming year will be to invest in brand awareness.

Are there any plans to make more acquisitions?

In December 2020, we announced that we had become a public company, listed on the Turkish Stock Exchange. In line with our long-term growth strategy, and to strengthen the position of Bebeto outside of Turkey, we’ve recently signed a preliminary protocol for the acquisition of shares in the European market. We will undoubtedly continue to look at acquisitions within Europe if and when they become available.



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