The Greek olive grove that sweeps up international awards

sakellaropoulos nick chemical engineer

It is known that Greece produces top quality olive oils. However, when they reach the top, then there is another reason to be prouder. And this was achieved recently recently from Sakellaropoulos Organic Farms, when with the olive oil Majestic Blend Evoo it won 1st place in the list of the world ranking of EVOOWR olive oils.

This is a great distinction for a family business, which, however, is not only accidental, as Sakellaropoulos Organic Farms have 89 international awards in their collection. In fact, in 2017 it was respectively in the 2nd place in the world with the olive oil Syllektikon, in the same category.

Co-owner Nikos Sakellaropoulos - Chemical Engineer M.Sc (photo) explains how a family business manages to sweep up international awards. Mr. Sakellaropoulos talks to us about the production method, the continuous efforts for the improvement of the products, for the international competition and for the next steps.

Mr. Sakellaropoulos, recently with the Majestic Blend Evoo, you have won the 1st place in the list of the global olive oil ranking EVOOWR. How did you achieve this?

Let's start from the beginning. 26 years ago we consciously started organic olive cultivation, with privately owned olive groves, so that we have an excellent raw material, fully controlled and certified organic. On this basis we have created and are creating innovative products, always with scientific monitoring and based only on the production of our olive groves, which in recent years have been awarded for their taste, high quality and for their contribution to human health.

Majestic Blend Evoo, therefore, is an innovative olive oil that contains 3 varieties of olives and results from the natural addition of lemongrass and tarragon. We wanted to create a product of high gastronomy, to be recognized worldwide for the characteristics we gave it. So, after 4 years of trial and error, we managed to achieve the high quality - taste criteria that we had set from the beginning. With effort, supervision, continuous monitoring, tasting and sensory evaluations. The confirmation came from the 1st place in the world ranking in the Flavored Evoo’s category, a fact that is a special reward for us, but it is mainly our honor that our country, Greece, was in the first place of the world ranking of olive oils for the first time. At the same time, this global award comes as a continuation of our long-term effort to create unique olive products. It is no coincidence that for 2017, we were respectively in 2nd place in the world with our olive oil Syllektikon, in the same category. 

Where are your crops located?

Our crops are located in the area of ​​Sparta, in Laconia. The choice of the place is not random, as it has been famous for olive growing for several years, as well as having zero levels of environmental pollution. Also, olive varieties, such as Koroneiki and Kalamon, are indigenous varieties and have been perfectly adapted to the climate and the region.

These factors make the area an ideal location for the production of excellent quality olive products. Our involvement with olive production was the evolution of the special bond we had developed with the sacred olive tree and the natural way of life. The passion for quality and innovation gave us the impetus in 1992, when organic farming was still an unknown concept in our country, to consciously choose organic farming. All our products, production processes and our philosophy, one can see them through our website 

How many awards have you won and in which categories?
Both our organic olive oils and our table olives have managed to win 89 international awards for taste, quality and contribution to human health in global competitions, with a very high degree of difficulty and competition, from Japan to America. This number of awards is a record for a Greek producer, and specifically for a producer who produces and packages exclusively the products from his own olive groves (Single Estate). Indicatively, our olive products have been honored with 23 Great Taste Awards, from the respective competition in London but also in other world competitions such as Terraolivo in Israel, EVOOIOOC in Italy, Olivinus in Argentina, NYIOOC in New York, BIOL Italy, LAIOOC in Los Angeles, ITQI in Brussels and JOOP in Japan. The participation of our organic olive oils in the National Tasting Championship of Spain, in Cordoba, where they received positive reviews from the specialized tasting panels, is also important.

What is the main feature of your products?
Our organic oil products are characterized by innovative ideas, with points of excellence, special gastronomic flavors, natural rich aromas and the ideal balance. They have superior organoleptic components that are now proven to help prevent diseases, shield and improve human health. Indicatively, our innovative proposals include limited edition, extra virgin single-variety olive oils, that are aromatic Premium and Gourmet olive oils with an EU health claim. However, apart from the organic olive oils, we have been distinguished for the innovation that we apply in the production of the organic table olives of Kalamon variety and green olives, products which are of natural fermentation, with minimal salt, without pasteurization and are produced through special processes that are constantly monitored.

Where do the organic products from Sakellaropoulos olive groves excel in relation to corresponding organic products?

In addition to organic farming, we aim to create functional olive products. Products that provide benefits to human health and help improve the quality of life, something that is proven through scientific collaborations and research studies, in which we actively participate and which are at the core of Sakellaropoulos Organic Farms from the beginning. They are the most reliable basis for the production and accurate identification of the health protection value of all our products. A typical example is the clinical study carried out by the University of Athens under the responsibility of the professor of the Department of Pharmacy, Dr. Prokopi Magiati and Dr. Eleni Meliou, where the olives that have the most health protective ingredients (specifically tyrosol, hydroxytyrosol and their derivatives) were researched. Table olives from our olive groves were found to have on average 5 times more tyrosol and hydroxytyrosol (powerful natural antioxidants) than the other types of olives tested in the laboratory. The results were announced at the world conference of the International Scientific Society of Olive Oil that took place in Olympia in 2016. As announced, the daily consumption of only five of our table olives can positively affect the lipid profile of humans.

At the same time, our organic olive oils participate in the "Interventional Study of the Mediterranean Diet" conducted by the School of Public Health of Harvard University in the USA. There, our organic olive oils were added to the daily diet of 1,000 volunteer firefighters at 44 fire stations in the United States. The purpose of the three-year study by the Harvard School of Public Health is to show that changing eating habits in groups of people at high risk of disease and in particular heart attacks while performing their work, reduces this risk by extremely high rates.

 In which markets do you have a presence? Are you having difficulty accessing international markets?
At the moment our export activity concerns 90% of our production and is available in 14 countries such as USA, Australia, United Kingdom, France, Scandinavian countries, Germany etc. Difficulties in accessing international markets are overpassed, as our specialized organic oil products have an important passport. Organic farming, their certifications, taste and aromas, their high quality, innovation, scientific monitoring during production and their proven positive effect on the human body, make our oil products unique and give them access to even the most demanding foreign markets. Simply put, they are olive oil products with an identity.

What are your plans for expanding the business for the next period?
The clear plan of Sakellaropoulos Organic Farms for the coming years is the continuation and evolution of the production of organic olive products of high health protection value with the innovation in aromas and flavors to remain unchanged in the long run. At the same time, we aim to expand the recognition of our brand by consumers and to secure even more important markets abroad, with stable and mutual collaborations. Most important of all for us is the expansion of our collaborations with researchers and scientists, in various fields of health, in order to offer as much as possible to the evolution of olive growing and functional foods, proving the words of Hippocrates: Let our food be our medicine and our medicine our food.'