Turkey’s leading pistachio exporter, explains why sorting technologies are essential for product quality.

Leuven, Belgium, 24 July 2019 – Founded as a family business in 1976, Gaziantep-based Kahraman Agriculture continues to thrive under second-generation management. In addition to producing nuts, dried fruits, oil seeds, tahini, legumes, spices and olive oil, Kahraman Agriculture also produces 40% of all Turkey’s exported pistachios. The company has been using TOMRA sorting machines since 2008 and is increasing its cooperation with TOMRA as it grows.

Kahraman Agriculture exports 80% of its processed pistachios to Europe – primarily to Italy, Spain, Portugal and Germany – as an industrial product. These nuts are used mostly in the production of chocolate, ice cream, bakery goods, salami and sausages.

Turkey’s average annual production of shelled pistachios is around 130,000 tons. Ahmet Çıkmaz, the Deputy General Manager of Kahraman Agriculture, explained: “On average, Kahraman Agriculture supplies 8,000 tons of Turkey’s total exports of 20,000 tons. Our production rate is growing exponentially year after year. Therefore, our partnership with TOMRA also continues to grow.”

Kahraman Agriculture started to use TOMRA’s machinery by purchasing the first BEST sorting machines in 2008 and now has six TOMRA sorting machines at its production facilities. Mr. Çıkmaz said: “We still use the first BEST machine we purchased with high performance. However, technology is developing, and we can see how the machinery has become even better with our latest TOMRA Nimbus BSI+ machine, which we have been using for a year now. Kahraman has always been very sensitive about product quality and we are very pleased with the way the Nimbus BSI helps this.”

Kahraman Agriculture used to do all its sorting manually before acquiring TOMRA machines. Mr. Çıkmaz said: “Our capacity is much higher now than it was before we purchased TOMRA machines. While we can process one ton of product and achieve the desired quality level in seven hours with manual sorting, it is possible to complete this process in just one hour with TOMRA sorting machines. This means time and cost advantage. Naturally, human error is also eliminated. And keeping the products untouched is very important for us from a microbiological perspective.” 

Ahmet Çıkmaz says that exporting pistachios to the biggest brands in Europe means it is vital to follow strict rules. Underlining that the most important challenge in the industry is to achieve global standards by ensuring proper removal of foreign materials and aflatoxins, Mr. Çıkmaz explained: “Europe is very sensitive about food safety. All their products must meet strict food safety and quality standards. It is important that the aflatoxin levels are within the defined standards, otherwise the products may be rejected. It is therefore essential to use high-technology sorting machines from a manufacturer who invests in research and development.”

Superior performance in removing foreign materials, ensuring consistent quality 

Commenting on the success of TOMRA sorting machines in removing foreign materials from products, Mr. Çıkmaz said: “We maintain superior performance by operating our TOMRA machines 24 hours a day, six days per week. During peak seasons, this may go up to seven days per week. We always process our products at the same high-quality level. This is not possible with manual sorting methods.”

TOMRA’s sorting solutions boost processing capacity at the same time as increasing profitability and improving food quality and food safety. TOMRA’s specialized nut sorting machines remove the shells of hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts, peanuts, pistachios, pine nuts and many other nuts, as well as removing aflatoxins and all kinds of foreign materials such as rocks, stems, inner shells, plastic, glass, and metal. TOMRA’s machines also recognize and sort-out rotten and mouldy pieces, pest damage, discoloration, and creased products.

TOMRA Food is preferred because high technology is backed-up by excellent after-sales service

Ahmet Çıkmaz has found that TOMRA’s after-sales service is as impressive as its sorting machines’ performance. He said: “TOMRA’s people are with us as soon as we need them, providing full support to ensure continuous operation of our production lines. In our business, this alone is a reason for choosing TOMRA.”

Ease-of-use optimizes sorting machine performance 

Underlining the ease-of-use of the Nimbus BSI+, Mr. Çıkmaz said: “With its user-friendly interface, we easily make the adjustments we need. The machine’s usability is as important as its features. The BSI+ is very easy to use and TOMRA provided simple training to ensure we take full advantage of the machine benefits.”

TOMRA Food’s Turkey Sales Manager, Ahmet Koçyiğit, commented: “Our solutions meet our customers’ special needs and we always support them with our experienced local service team. Thanks to the BSI (Biometric Signature Identification) technology, we are now able to sort many product-specific defects in the nut industry with a very low waste rate, which was previously impossible. This, in turn, contributes to TOMRA’s technological leadership in the other areas where it offers solutions.”

Companies using the existing Nimbus BSI sorting machine can integrate the BSI+ technology into their sorters to improve performance without any mechanical modifications.