Ülker was born in 1920 in today’s Crimea, to the north of the Black Sea. His family migrated to Turkey in 1929 and settled in İstanbul, where Ülker finished primary school. He later moved to Bilecik province to study at secondary school, and later to neighboring Kütahya for high school education as a boarder. He later graduated from the now-defunct Sultanahmet Administrative and Economic Sciences Graduate School. By the time of his graduation in the mid-1940s, World War II had ended, and he decided to enter the biscuit production business. Together with his older brother Asım and three employees, he started production in a 100-square-meter İstanbul store. Following the success of the business there, he opened his first biscuit factory, again in İstanbul, in 1948.
In 1970, Ülker founded the Anadolu Gıda, a publicly traded food company, and began exporting biscuits as early as 1974. He entered chocolate production in 1979 and vegetable oil production in 1992. Milk production began in 1996. When he handed the management to his son Murat in 2000, Ülker was 80 years old and at the helm of the largest food producer in Turkey. He was also known for his charitable activities, particularly his support for the improvement of education in the country.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek, jailed Fenerbahçe Chairman Aziz Yıldırım and dozens of businessmen expressed their condolences over Ülker's death.