Babis Papadellis' Interview on Humanstories

Babis Papadellis' Interview on Humanstories

In prehistoric times, Lesvos was a significant center of cultural activity at the region of North East Aegean and has experienced strong economical, commercial and cultural growth during the Archaic Era (7 th to 6 th Century B.C.). The inhabitants of Lesvos are connected with olive oil and its cultivation since antiquity. 

Olive and olive oil are something unique. Actually, this is the birthplace of the renowned ancient poets Sapfo and Alkaios. The island of olive oil and poetry.... The economy of the island relies heavily on the production of olive oil as the main engine of growth of the place is the agricultural sector.

Babis Papadellis relied on this part of economy. Babis was born and raised in Mytilene. He has completed his academic studies in the Faculty of Marketing and Business Association at the University of Macedonia, in Thessaloniki. After his graduation in 2008, he decided to work as a producer of olive oil. In that way, he became the heir of the family business and in a very short time and by avoiding unnecessary excessive attempts, he managed to develop the Papadellis Olive Oil at a competitive level....

“The village I come from is called Pigi and is located 25 kilometers away from Mytilene, the capital of the island. Our company is based on the village of Thermi, seven kilometers before you reach Pigi and one kilometer away from the St Rafael monastery. Our family operates in the field of olive oil from 1981. It was then, when my grandfather, my mother's father, Charalambos Plomaritis bought our olive mill. Until 2008, our family possessed just the olive mill and our olive groves. It was that year, when I had just graduated form the University, that I decided to operate in the field of olive oil production. At the beginning, I faced a number of difficulties due to the young of my age” Babis tells us and continues by stating: “I was the youngest trader of olive oil in the island and one of the youngest throughout the whole Greek continent. Gradually and by working methodically, I managed to gain trust and, at the same time, I increased the market share of the company in the island. 2012 was a milestone for us, as we were assisted by a real estate agency and became the suppliers of a Spanish company that was one of the largest companies of the field, worldwide”.

Thus, in 2012 Babis cooperates with his eldest brother Dimitris and together they set up a business that would operate in the field of trading and bottling of olive oil. However, due to the financial crisis, they decided not to invest in building new facilities, but to cooperate with external contractors for the bottling. Two years later, the two brothers made their mark on the olive oil sector. The demand was increased and they built new, modern bottling facilities in a private building, right next to the olive mill.

The Papadellis family owns about 4000 olive oil trees. “The quantity of olive oil we trade is multiple times bigger than of that we produce and for this reason we have suppliers in the island, in order to serve our ever expanding clientele either with bulk or with bottled olive oil”.

“Producing exceptional olive oil is something magical. It's a challenge. You need to attend closely all the stages of production in order to understand the uniqueness of olive oil”.

This olive oil was influenced by the dynamic personality of the two brothers, resulting in its unique taste. “Because we were dealing with the trade of bulk olive oil, we had access to olive oils from the whole island of Lesvos. Thus, we could classify the olive oils according to their region of origin and select the best. That, combined with our controlled production at our olive mill, enabled us to set a high standard of quality for our olive oils”.

The response of people is vast. “Our products have been established in Northern Greece and are becoming even more popular to the rest of the country, as we managed to cooperate with one of the biggest chains of supermarkets in Greece. Not only that, but there is a continuous and growing interest in Europe for our olive oils, which are gradually becoming established among the country's finest”.

“Our products are the olive oils Sapfo, Alkaios, Aiolis and the olive made bath soaps Sapfo. The names Alkaios and Sapfo come from the ancient poets. The greatest historical personalities of Lesvos”.

This delicious olive oil was named after Sappho, who was the tenth Muse of antiquity, thus inspiring the Papadellis family to use an artistic bottle, designed by Christos Trivizas, for it... The net that is wrapped around the bottle is handmade and one of its kind for each bottle. It refers semiologically to the coif and care of the hair of women in the ancient years, showing the special attention of the family to the quality and every little detail. The label was inspired by broken pieces of ancient pots.

“Our aim is to provide the consumers with an olive oil that is equivalent to its bottling. That's why we chose an olive oil that was taken from three olive groves from the village Pigi of Lesvos”.

However, there was a huge flow of immigrants to the island of Lesvos, the name of which was heard on a daily basis from the biggest media. The tourism sector of the island was affected in a very negative way. The inhabitants of the island were faced with conditions that were similar with those in 1922, when many families from the Asia Minor fled from Smyrni after the great slaughter and found shelter in Lesvos. After the exchange of population with Turkey, which took place in 1923-1924, a great number of Greek refugees from Asia Minor came to Lesvos. However the people of Lesvos are not becoming pessimistic. The young people of the island are pioneers. They insist on producing quality products because they believe that the passion they put on every effort they make will finally help them “conquer” the demanding world market. “In the beginning, the problem was huge, because there was a vast number of refugees and they could not be hosted under human conditions because of the lack of appropriate facilities. As time went by, the population of the refugees decreased and their conditions of living were slightly improved. The refugees are becoming integrated with the everyday life of the people of Lesvos”.

The future plans of Papadellis Olive Oil....“Our plan for the future is to contribute to the establishment of the olive oil of Lesvos -and consequently of Greece- among the quality products worldwide. That's why we grant local producers of olive oil with a bonus on the market price, in order to provide them with an extra incentive to produce quality olive oil for us”.

….Patience and hard work are required. Nothing is easy but, at the same time, nothing is impossible, for those who put hard effort. - Μάχη Χριστοφορίδου  28/03/2017

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Location: Loutropoli Thermis
Lesvos, Greece