One could say that Sakellaropoulos Organic Farms with the number of prizes won (185 awards from both national and international quality competitions to be exact) is without second thought a synonym to fine quality. With the utmost respect for the environment and following up to date practices, which guarantee the production of such delicate and unique olive products, it is no wonder how this Spartan has achieved so much!
Although Mr. Sakellaropoulos is a busy man and his obligations many, he politely accepted our invitation for a close up.
H.A: When & how did you decide to engage in olive growing and more specifically with organic olive growing and why did you choose Sparta, Laconia?
G.S: My engagement with olive growing was the evolution of a particular bond that I had developed with the sacred olive tree and natural way of life. Our place, Sparta-Laconia is not a random choice. It is distinguished by slight under zero levels of environmental pollution and has a rich history of olive cultivation spanning centuries. The best combination of ideal microclimatic conditions, flora and fauna on the slopes of Mount Taygetus and Parnon gives to our organic olive products primary characteristics of a higher quality.
H.A: What is the sweetest memory of your childhood?
G.S: The sweetest memory of my childhood, is my contact with nature in all activities, the images but also my region’s scents as well as its authentic flavors. Flavors and scents I felt as a boy which I realized were beginning to fade as the years went by, due to intensive crop production and mass production. These authentic flavors from old and forgotten eras, that were imprinted in my memory made me want to bring them back and to evolve them. It is obviously a confession of the soul and something that I think is a legacy for next generations.
H.A: Do you believe that there is a secret “recipe” for success?
G.S: I believe that there are no secrets, there is no recipe or trampled road. There is only one meaning… Passion.
Passion is innate, either you have it or not. Personally I believe that there is no such meaning as success because everything evolves like a journey with different starting points every time.
28 years ago, the journey of Organic Olive Groves started. In the beginning, it was a dream and an inspiration that brought knowledge and experience through endless working hours, in order to achieve our goal. Our target is based on passion, combined with a stability criterion with 3 keystones: high quality, scientific monitoring and international recognition. Surely that was not something simple and random.
All of this is what lead us to many and repeated international achievements, reaching up to a unique number of 185 international awards for a Greek olive growing producer through our participation in the most renowned world’s competitions. This is the target for me and not success. The definition of success is each failure until what you do, you do it perfectly. This teaches you what to fix in order to reach your goal.
H.A: How easy or difficult is to be a pioneer in your field?
G.S: it is rather difficult and requires experience, but at the same time great and deep knowledge in your field, on a scientific level.
The international competition in this sector is big considering the fact that many countries of the world produce olive oil and table olives to a small or great extent, with a wide range of qualities. In many cases with huge investments in infrastructure, know - how and continued steps concerning training and education on all stages of cultivation, production and standardization. To make the level of difficulty clearer World Ranking EVOO, one of the most well - known worldwide olive oil rankings, reviews and ranks only the awarded olive oils yearly. For 2019, it reviewed 12.092 olive oil samples from 34 countries of the world in 31 international competitions. For a second consecutive year our country, Greece, won 1st place in the world with our Gemstone blend evoo, a multi-variety gourmet olive oil competing in the category of Best Condimento Olive Oil 2019. This specific gourmet olive oil required 4 years of changes and testing in order to reach the 1st place of the world.
H.A: What are the main characteristics of your products that help distinguish them in competitions?
G.S: We have specialized in producing unique olive oils and table olives that belong to the bio-functional food category. Among our olive oils you will find Majestic, Gemstone and Enigma. Apart from bio olive oils we have been innovative in introducing the production of bio gourmet Kalamon and green olives with minimal salt. Each product has an identity, it is a special creation. Conceiving the idea and the endless tests our products undergo in order to succeed in obtaining the desired quality makes every product unique with its own characteristics.
H.A: Quality or quantity? What is your opinion? To which extent do your products contribute to consumers’ health?
G.S: Quality with scientific documentation and international acknowledgment! This is the crystal message by Sakellaropoulos Olive Groves for 28 years now with no exceptions whatsoever. The highest quality rarely conforms to unlimited quantity. It is not important for us to multiply our production but to raise our level of quality even higher. This is our identity and our goal first and foremost.
H.A: Do you consider the various efforts undertaken by government bodies on a national level to have contributed to strengthening Greek products?
G.S: They have helped Greek products in general and this is evident in the increase in the number of products exported in the last decade, despite the crisis that our country experienced. Ι am of the opinion that anything done adding to the brand name” Made in Greece” is a positive step.
We all need to partner up, by promoting Greece and its products.
H.A: What is it that gives you impetus to your work?
G.S: Nature, its power and greatness in combination with the respect and humility that it offers. A great belief of mine is the sense of fulfillment that the final creation gives you, which without thinking too much, you have felt it earlier in completion. This reasoning embodies a personal way of life and Ι consider it to be the driving force which gives impetus to our work.
H.A: What is the most important advice that was given to you during your career?
G.S: The main advice I would say is to remain myself in everything I do with simplicity, without unnecessary words. Keeping my passion for high quality, not changing my basic principles but to change my way of thinking when it comes to creating new products. To experiment, to develop them and further improve them with the utmost respect and humility in nature. An equally important advice during my career is to accept my mistakes and see them as a “price” I will pay aboard the journey of Sakellaropoulos organic farm.
H.A: Describe us an event that marked you as a man.
G.S: In 2012, after 20 years of tests and preparation, training, difficulties and relentless effort, I took the decision to participate for the first time in an international competition with recognized judges on an international level. I considered our olive products to be ready, after 20 years. At that time, I was informed by the organizers of the esteemed Great Taste Awards in London that the table olives” Telies with aromatic herbs” won the highest distinction ever being given to table olives, 2 gold stars. In fact, one of the comments we received by the judges was: “I want to eat all the jar”. That was our first international award out of the 185 up to then. This is a moment that I will never forget. This fact confirmed all our effort and showed us that we were in the right direction in our journey.
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