The Greek olive grower who received 400 international awards for quality and innovation in an interview with the Athens-Macedonia News Agency (ANA) has revealed the big and small secrets of his success.
Speaking about Greek olive production two and a half years ago, he said it was a “marathon”. At that time he received 100 international awards.
Today, 300 awards later, George Sakellaropoulos, owner of the homonymous olive groves at the foot of the Taygetos and Parnon mountain range, proves that he is now an Olympic marathon runner, with a record performance that cannot be achieved by any another olive oil producer in the world (its own points contributed 28% of the 14,727 points that Greece gained, this year taking first place in the world in the base category of highly flavored olive oils).
Behind these rewards, the distinctions, the research projects that start from the National and Capodistrian University of Athens to reach Yale and Harvard, special olive oil that has an astonishing content of 550 mg / Kg of oleocanthal (polyphenol), the wide use of petroleum products in preparations, creams and cosmetics beneficial to health, 30 years ago of persistent, organized and methodical efforts made by the phenomenon of Lacedaemonian olive oil producer to change the world map of olive oil in favor of the Greek national product, with its “tools” being the great demands of today’s business: quality and innovation.
In his interview with ANA, Sakellaropoulos reveals both the small and the big secrets of success, and that the most recent of those who “run” in his marathon are the olives in powder form in a cholesterol-lowering capsule. . Most significant is that in 16,584 olive oils, from 2,105 companies in 37 countries around the world, Agourelaio organic olive oil from its olive groves is in the TOP 10 of the best Koroneiki variety olive oils in the world. for 2021. And the most remarkable is that 1000 firefighters from 44 American fire stations now know the Mediterranean diet and appreciate Sakellaropoulos olive oil.
The full interview at the ANA follows:
The 400 awards for your organic olives and olive oils are now a… world record. What is the beginning, how has it evolved and what are the ingredients of excellence and uniqueness that have led to all these distinctions?
“My involvement in olive growing was the evolution of the special bond that I had developed with the sacred olive tree and the natural way of life. The passion for quality and innovation motivated me in 1992, when organic farming was still a little known concept in our country, to consciously choose certified organic olive growing, exclusively Single Estate.
The excellent combination of ideal conditions of microclimate, flora and fauna at the foot of Taygetos and Parnon gives our organic olive products main characteristics of superior taste and quality, which are collectively defined as Terroir “Sakellaropoulos Organic Farms” ( https: // www .bioarmonia.gr).
30 years ago the journey that contained our dream and our inspiration began and evolved, and with it brought the knowledge and experience to achieve the goal, in a special way but also with innovative methods developed in our organic olive products.
The stability criteria during all these years were based on three axes: high quality, scientific monitoring and facts. It was no coincidence. In 2012, and only after twenty (20) years of testing and preparation that we went through, we began the conscious participation in international competitions recognized around the world, with our triptych and flag our convictions, which are: Greece first, then Sparta – Laconia and finally Sakellaropoulos Organic Farms.
Since 2012, we have been honored with numerous repeat international awards, reaching a unique number of 400 international awards, which is a world record for a Greek olive producer.
Do you consider any of these rewards to be more important than others?
“Our participation and our distinctions in prestigious competitions around the world is a confirmation of our effort to achieve the highest possible quality. It is the proof and the passport to the world markets.
We compete internationally for quality with companies and producers from countries such as Italy, Spain, Tunisia, France, Morocco, Turkey, United States, Argentina, Chile and many others.
It is very difficult to single out our most important awards, but I will significantly mention the ones that Greece has never achieved until today, as a country, mainly in the world ranking of olive oils.
I consider that the highest achievement is the obtaining of the five (5) first places by our five (5) gourmet olive oils, at the top of the world in their category, on the basis of the EVOOWR world ranking for 2021, creating a new point record (in order: Majestic Blend Evoo, Masterpiece Blend Evoo, Oleoastron Gourmet Evoo, Flavored Gourmet Enigma and Syllektikon Gourmet Evoo).
A particular point of reference is that among 16,584 olive oils, from 2,105 companies and 37 countries around the world, our Agourelaio organic olive oil has been ranked in the TOP 10 of the best Koroneiki variety olive oils in the world. for 2021, while our organic olive oils Fyllikon First Harvest and Armonia Monovarietal have been ranked for the third year in a row in the “Olive oils of the year 2021 ″ (EVOO’S of the YEAR 2021).
It should be noted that during the last five years, our olive oils have been ranked 1st in the world three times and twice 2nd in their category in the world ranking of olive oils. , while especially in 2018, it was the first time in history that a Greek olive oil and Greece as the country that produces it, reached the 1st place in an olive oil category in the world.
It is a great distinction and a special honor for us to see our olive products rank among the first in the world and to prove that they belong to the global gastronomic elite.
Olive oils and table olives from your farms are now found in major universities, such as Yale and Harvard, thanks to research and clinical studies. How are Greek functional foods “used” in such studies?
“We have focused, with scientific documentation and international recognition, on the production of high-quality functional foods, that is, foods that have proven to be beneficial to human health.
Today, our organic olive oils are used in the three-year “Mediterranean Diet Intervention Trial”, conducted by Harvard University and the School of Public Health, on the daily diet of 1,000 volunteer firefighters in 44 fire stations in the United States.
In addition, organic Kalamata olives from our farms participate exclusively in the research project entitled “Olives for Health”, conducted by researchers at the School of Public Health at Yale University in the United States, in collaboration with researchers. from the Department of Cardiology at Yale Medical School.
The aim of these studies is to assess the human health benefits that result from the daily consumption of our organic olive products.
Also, important is the first clinical study of the National and Capodistrian University of Athens (NKUA) on the positive effect of the daily consumption of Kalamata olives from our olive groves, on the lipidemic profile of healthy volunteers and in particular on the LDL / HDL cholesterol levels and protection of the cardiovascular system.
In addition, a second clinical study was conducted, from 2017 to 2021, in which more than 100 volunteer patients participated and whose results should be announced soon.
The impressive results of these clinical studies, with a daily intake of only 5 of our organic olives, allowed the research team at the NKUA Pharmacy Department to convert Sakellaropoulos Organic Farms table olives into the form of a powder encapsulated with an international patent, for their beneficial effect in regulating cholesterol levels.
You started the… organic olive growing marathon 30 years ago. Does your accumulated experience allow you to estimate-predict the future of olives and olive oil from Greece to international markets?
“Overseas markets and exports have never been easy, they are very competitive and only the best can survive in such a marathon.
As all modern statistics and our personal experience show, today we are convinced that consumers all over the world appreciate and turn to special products and especially organic functional foods, quality foods with a specific identity.
This identity and therefore the added value given to gastronomic products must be factual. Either in the form of specialized analyzes, international awards and distinctions, recognized qualities such as health claims, clinical studies, characteristics and combined uniqueness.
Thus, products which have innovations, peculiarities and recognized quality can be exported much more easily, as they offer a variety of “guarantees” to the consumer in order to choose them. This is the plan and the path we want to take as Sakellaropoulos Organic Farms in the future. We are staying true to the path that we mapped out thirty years ago and we are evolving, without deviating.