George Sakellaropoulos is a Greek olive oil producer from Sparta, Laconia, who holds an impressive record that no other single olive oil producer has ever held in Europe.
Mr. Sakellaropoulos has won over 221 international awards for his organic olive oil products, and has received a plethora of distinctions from oil tasting and quality competitions around the world.
Over the past three consecutive years Mr. Sakellaropoulos’ olive oil has won the first place in the world in its category and has been named the “Best Organic Olive Oil in the World” by ISO, FDA and HACCP (the official global quality and standards systems for food and beverages).
The achievement is especially significant as the nominees must already hold at least 30 awards and distinctions from other tasting and quality assurance competitions to be considered. The award for the first place has been previously won only by the top olive producers in the world, from Italy, Spain, Argentina, Portugal and the USA.
Mr. Sakellaropoulos explained that he did not have entrepreneurial motives growing up, neither he had ever thought about creating his own line of products. However, his love and admiration for olive trees, as well as his interest in creating healthier and affordable products for everyone, drove him to discover a true passion that he had for organic products.
“My involvement with olives and oil production was basically the evolution of a special bond I had developed with the sacred olive tree and what I like to call ‘the natural way of life.’ The passion for quality and innovation motivated me in 1992 – when organic farming was still an unknown concept in Greece – to consciously choose certified organic olive cultivation, with specific methods and conditions, knowing the benefits it entails for human health, but also for the environment itself,” he stated.
Mr. Sakellaropoulos’ journey with olive oil production begun 28 years ago, and as he explained, it took many years of hard work and dedication to get to where he is today.
“Those who get involved in olive growing must work hard, because olive growing is not a race of speed, but it is a marathon that requires endurance.”
“What I wanted to do was have organic olive tree farms, and then came the idea to create a product line. This was initially just a dream, just an inspiration, which made me want to learn and study to earn the knowledge and the experience to achieve this goal.”
The successful producer believes that what distinguishes Greek olive oil from other competitors, especially around the Mediterranean Sea, is its high quality and its rich taste.
When he initially started searching for the best location to set the “Sakellaropoulos Organic Olive Groves”, he immediately thought of Laconia in Peloponnese; a place known for its virgin lands, covered with vast fields of olive trees and surrounded by sun kissed coasts.
“Our place in Sparta was not a random choice to grow our trees. It has almost zero levels of environmental pollution and has a history of centuries of experience in oil production. The excellent combination of ideal conditions of microclimate, flora and fauna at the foot of the Taygetus and Parnon mountains, gives our organic oil products primary characteristics of superior quality.”
As he mentions, together with his team of scientists and experts, the criteria of selection of the best olives from the Sakellaropoulos estates are based on three important axes: very high quality, constant scientific monitoring, and ongoing research for the best practices in the filed of oil production.
Although his record-breaking achievements in the international scene of olive oil production are remarkable, Mr. Sakellaropoulos noted that it was never his goal to take part in competitions abroad.
“We had not participated in international competitions before 2012. That is, 20 years after the start of all this effort. We went through a long period of preparation and specialization because we wanted to be absolutely sure that our organic olive products are at the highest level of taste and quality internationally. Then came the opportunity to compete qualitatively with the world's top oil products and showcase the brilliance and uniqueness of our Greek products.”
“All this led us to many and repeated international awards, reaching the unique number of 221 world awards for Greek olive producer. We won in the most recognized international competitions, exclusively for domestic content, primarily honouring our country, Greece, then our place, Sparta, and finally the organic olive groves of the Sakellaropoulos estate,” he added.
Every year, a large number of of olive oil producers from different countries around the world submit samples of their products to be considered in the International Olive Oil Council completion.
“We participate exclusively in highly prestigious international competitions, with hundreds of participating samples examined by professional tasters, with blind tasting procedures, according to the standards set by the International Olive Oil Council. In other words, the judges and connoisseurs do not know which olive oil or which table olives they are tasting, so we are very grateful of the recognition we have received over the years.”
Talking about the other products that he creates, which he refers to as “the wonders of the Greek land”, such as cosmetics, natural soaps, balsamic vinegar and more, Mr. Sakellaropoulos says that his company’s driving factors have always been passion and dedication to the pure, the authentic, and simply the best.
“Our innovative olive oil products are many, but we also produce organic and gourmet olives, without chemicals and preservatives, neither pasteurization. We also have balsam oil, natural cosmetics, balsam wax ointments, handmade soaps and more. With these products we aim to offer people smells and tastes reminiscent of old, forgotten times, while at the same time we strive to improve human health and the environment, with bio-function foods and products.”
Even during 2020 and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. Sakellaropoulos’ products received over 80 international awards, including the one for the “Best Olive Oil in the World” for his Agoureleo oil – which is early harvest, unfiltered extra virgin olive oil.
Despite the success, the Spartan olive grower insists that his focus has always been and it is still to this day, to produce high quality products that proudly represent Greece abroad.
“We are competing with countries with a very high level of oil production and top-quality products. We have never participated in international design or packaging competitions. We were never interested in promotion in general. We are only interested in the internal content, the quality of our oil, and to be recognized for it as the best in the world is the reward that has the greatest value for us and makes us want to continue doing what we do every day.”
All photos from George Sakellaropoulos Facebook