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Tritordeum presentation snapshot organized by the Doruk Group Holding in Istanbul, which gathered more than 200 attendees (Photo: Agrays).

Agrasys conquers the Turkish market with its new cereal Tritordeum

Agrasys, an agrifood company located in the Barcelona Science Park (PCB), has signed an exclusive contract with Doruk Group Holding for the production of seed and grain, flour production and the sale in the Turkish market of products made from its novel cereal, Tritordeum. Under this license agreement, Agrasys will receive royalties based on sales volumes.


This new alliance is now underway, with the export of the first 42 tons of Tritordeum flour from Spain, which Doruk Group Holding will devote to the introduction of breads of the new cereal, under the name of “Bu Ekmek”, in the 73 Komsufirin bakery shops, owned by the group.

“Turkey is not only a great agricultural power, but is the country with the highest consumption of bread in Europe. Having a partner like Doruk Group, a leader in the businesses of grain, flour and bakery products in the country, is an important opportunity and can open access for Tritordeum products to Middle Eastern markets”, said Pilar Barceló, Managing Director and founding partner of Agrasys.

Barceló says that the new collaboration will involve “very interesting volumes for the company”, whose business model is based on royalties generated from the sales of seed, grain and flour, “and for Spanish partner companies which have invested in this project from the beginning and now start to export in containers”.

Tritordeum is a new cereal crop with beneficial health properties; it is more digestible than wheat -due it’s reduced content of those gluten proteins which cause intolerance- and has low environmental impact. It was first developed in 1977 by a team of researchers from the Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (IAS) of the Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) of Cordoba by traditional improvement techniques, without using transgenic technology. Agrasys, a spin-off of the CSIC, acquired the exclusive rights to breed and exploit this new cereal in 2006, and is responsible for its commercialisation worldwide.

Development in Turkey

The agreement includes the export of Tritordeum flour and grain to Turkey in the early years in order to supply the bakery chain Komsufirin. In the future, however, the objective is that Doruk Group Holding will control the entire value chain from seed production to marketing finished Tritordeum products and will extend the project to the industrial level through Uno Bakery Corp, a company within the group and a leader in the frozen dough sector.

At the agronomy level, Marmara and Berce, other companies of the holding, have already begun to cultivate Tritordeum in temperate regions of western Turkey, and seed multiplication and production will increase progressively in the coming campaigns.

Turkey, climatically similar to Spain, is a major producer and exporter of grain, especially wheat, followed by barley, oats and rye. “From now it will also be a Tritordeum producer. In July 2016 the first Turkish harvest will be available and the sowing forecasts indicate an exponential increase for the 2016 / 2017 season”, says Paul Lazzeri, R&D director and founding partner of Agrasys.


Tritordeum in Europe

Turkey is just one of the markets where Agrasys has already introduced Tritordeum products. Since the cereal was first launched in 2013 in Spain, the company has successfully closed a number of licensing agreements with Italian, French and German companies, which already sell flour or other products made of Tritordeum.

To date around 600 outlets –ranging from artisan bakeries to supermarkets- in Spain, Italy, Germany and Turkey are marketing a wide variety of food products (bread, pastries, pasta, beer, etc.) made from this new cereal.

“Our goal is to strengthen the presence of Tritordeum in countries where cereals are a staple dietary component and where consumers are looking for a healthy, high-quality alternative”, explains Barceló on the European expansion strategy.

To date, most Tritordeum production comes from Spain: this year some 1300 hectares are under cultivation, to be used to supply the Spanish, French, German and Turkish markets. There is also production on a smaller scale in France, Italy, Portugal and Turkey, under both conventional and organic production systems. In total, for the 2015 / 2016 campaign some 1700 hectares of Tritordeum are in cultivation throughout Europe.


Exporting to continue growth

Currently Agrasys focusses on the Tritordeum project; launched on the Spanish market only 3 years ago Tritordeum already provides 95% of revenue, but the company also has other on-going research on the development of crops for biomass and forage applications.

Since its establishment, Agrasys has raised a total of 1.14 million euros of capital. It has received several grants, the most recent being a Ministry of Industry ENISA award for 200,000 euros. Early in 2015 Inveready Technology Investment Group invested 500,000 euros into the company. The company closed 2015 with a turnover of 385,000 euros, tripling the 2014 turnover of 130,000 euros. For the current year prospects are positive and turnover is projected to reach 715,000 euros.

The expansion of business outside Spain has allowed Agrasys not only accelerate the growth of its main product, Tritordeum, but also to expand the human capital of the company, which grew from 7 people to 12 in 2015. A further 3 more people are expected to be incorporated in the next months of 2016. The growth in personnel has prompted that the company will soon leave the Barcelona Science Park to move to new offices in the district of Gràcia (Barcelona).

The expansion of the company is directly linked to the growth of Tritordeum, the combination of durum wheat and a wild barley which has already managed to make an important space for itself in the cereal food sector in Spain, Italy and now Turkey.

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