Future Makers: Olive Vision

Gran Prestige Gold 2012 at the international competition Terra Olivo, 1st Greek Product on the list of Germans’ Chefs Club and a distributing network of extra virgin olive oil Moria Elea from US to Russia, established in less than 6 months: Kostas Balafas and George Dimarakis introduce us to their olive oil company!

MoriaElea“The estate has always belonged to the family, 100 acres of land in the gifted location of Ermioni in Argolida where two special varieties are grown: the Koroneiki a trademark of quality olive oil and the Manaki variety, a more limited production of Peloponnese which offers rich aromatic character and sweet mild flavor with a special golden color that makes it an ideal ingredient for everyday culinary use. Their combination, Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil has been acknowledged by EU regulations as PDO Kranidiou (Manaki-Koroneiki).

Until 2010, this estate would only be used for autumn escapes, picking the olives by the whole family, production of olive oil exclusively for the family’s and friends’ needs. When we decided that this could lead to something more, firstly we tried to certify its quality. After a series of tests and analysis, we took some seminars at the Institute of Agricultural Sciences, we discussed it further with experts from the Agricultural University, we search several alternatives and we came up with the conclusion that the only solution in taking the risk to enter such a competitive industry like the one of olive oil, was to create a powerful brand name.

Our target was to create a premium, signature extra virgin olive oil product, by controlling each phase from production to consumption with an integrated management system, suitable for proving the value of the Greek land and promoting its name abroad.

In August 2011, leaving the multinational company we worked was the catalyst to go on and found Olive Vision. We organized and planned, we invested our own funds – borrowing and subsiding is prohibitive for a new entrepreneur- and by January we had launched the first bottle of Moria Elea. The product is handpicked, it goes twice a day at the oil press so as not to remain on earth and get oxidized, the bottling is made manually under strict health procedures and every year we circulate a limited number of bottles so as to ensure high quality. Thus, each bottle of Moria Elea is unique and is numbered on the front side, in a limited edition of 13.000 bottles for 2012.

From the beginning we addressed to foreign markets in order to create something new. The first attempts weren’t exactly what we had expected but we didn’t mind taking the challenge especially since we were both beginners counting on beginners’ luck. We changed our strategy, we targeted big delicatessens, top class restaurants, luxury hotels and invested lots of time to create a different image.

band_of_chefsAnd the good news came shortly after these moves. In 2012 we won the first prize at the international competition Terra Olivo. Along with it came the first contracts of collaboration. Six months later, we have organized a network that distributes the product to Russia, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Holland, France, Great Britain, Belgium and Romania, while we’re also waiting for orders from Australia, Canada and Japan. This may sound easy but it isn’t.  A good effort isn’t even the half of it, in order to convince the buyers you learn day by day.

One of the most recent products to be launched was “Band of Chefs”, an extra virgin olive oil, for everyday culinary use due to the sweet mild flavor of the Manaki variety.

Most people believe that a small Greek company promoting branded olive oil abroad in times of economic crisis is somehow Quixotic. What matters though for people behind the scenes is believing in a vision. And we feel, we ought to express our thanks to all of those who believed in our vision.”

  • The name is derived from “Moria Elea” the olive tree planted by goddess Athena to the Acropolis when fighting with Poseidon about whom would give his name in the city. Visitors of the Acropolis museum in Athens can see the sculptures which represent the myth on the west side of Parthenon.
  • The packaging was designed by the creative agency Sereal Designers, the bottle and the beech cap come from France, and the cotton cloth and wooden box are ordered made by craftsmen in Greece
  • Costas Balafas studied Political Sciences and International Relations at Panteion University, in 2001 he took his master in Economics and Marketing from the Athens University of Economic and Business, he was co-founder and co-owner of the magazine “Submarine” and during his tenure at Friesland, he created the yogurt Nounou Yotopia, the greater success of the company in this category.
  • In 2012 he started “Agrepicheirein”, a company that organizes seminars of marketing management for young farmers. The next seminar on “How to build your own brand product – The stages from production to consumption” will take place on November 3 (www.agrepixeirein.gr).
  • George Dimarakis studied Informatics at the Athens University of Economic and Business and worked as a consultant in the IT Company Cognity. He is a certified oil tester and has participated in culinary seminars.
  • For further information visit: olivevision.gr, moriaelea.com

This is a MLGFB translation of an article written by Mrs. Miranta Papadopoulou and published in the supplement “Passepartout” of the weekly newspaper Ependytis, on October 26th 2012.

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