Guided by experience: Lutfi Aydin
Guided by experience: Lutfi Aydin

Already dominating in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Hayat Kimya continues its impressive growth programme, and targeted pandemic response in manufacturing and marketing. Lutfi Aydın, Global Tissue Production Director, talked to TWM to explain his vision.

Despite the pandemic, we are happy to be on track with our tissue mill project in Russia and Turkey’s new investments. In Russia, with the additional 70,000tpy capacity, we will become Russia’s largest tissue producer. And in Turkey, also with new 70,000tpy capacity, we will maintain our leadership as the largest tissue producer. We plan to start operations in both mills in mid-2021.

As we are a global player and the largest tissue producer in the regions in which we operate – Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa – we will continue our investments at full speed. In the next few months we will focus on completion of our two new investments for 2021, and then we will continue to maintain our growth momentum and leadership.

During the outbreak of Covid-19 in Turkey, the whole country united under one goal; keeping safe, keeping healthy. We could feel the sense of support for the common welfare, like elsewhere around the world. In Turkey, state and private sector collaboration was remarkable during the outbreak of the pandemic. Everyone opened up their means to respond quickly and act timely to create precautions. As Hayat is one of the leading companies in the hygiene industry with more than 30 years of experience in the category, on top of the financial support provided to state driven fundraising Hayat provided more than 250 tonnes of diaper, tissue, detergent product support to health authorities in 10 countries globally.

During 2020 we have seen consumer behaviour shift to extremes. There were several weeks where everyone hoarded toilet paper, paper towels and detergents in their homes. We have followed the consumer behaviour closely and adapted our production plans to closely follow what the consumer wants. We produced large packs, bulk packs, and focused on plain products rather than niche scented or coloured products, understanding the sensitivity of consumers.

This decision has also enabled us to provide more products as we increased our efficiency in capacity. After a couple of weeks, we now see that consumer behaviour has gone back to normal consumption levels.

The trend shows that the demand for high-quality, easy to carry, disposable hygiene products will continue. For example, based on hygiene concerns the use of paper towel will be preferred to towel usage. Similarly, handkerchief and napkins will continue to be preferred for single-use purposes. In Turkey, tissue usage level was around 1.5kg/person in 2000s, and now it is around 8.5kg/person (RISI). Every 83 households out of 100 use toilet paper and 78 households out of 100 uses paper towel.

At the initial stage of the outbreak, the AfH market was effected immediately. However, as business now continues as usual – with precautions required by health authorities – the market will come back into balance.

Quality has also become an increasingly important criteria, now that we are talking about personal health. As the total tissue market grows, we believe that the private label tissue market will also grow. However, consumers are becoming more conscious about product specifications. Innovation and quality has become a very important tool to differentiate.

The pandemic has also accelerated the natural shift in consumer behaviour in terms of shopping and the ways of shopping. We have readjusted our business models to respond to our consumers via e-commerce channels.

These consumption shifts across many different sectors of the tissue industry will mean that the entire market will continue to grow steadily. As a leader in the industry, we will continue our investments and continue to introduce innovative products in response to what the consumer needs and wants.

Following consumer behaviour, needs and wants, and responding quickly in a crisis environment, we will be able understand, internalise and differentiate what behaviour will change and which will stick for a long time. Our experience will guide us during this period.