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THE QUALITY OF THE GREEK APICULTURAL PRODUCTS
By JEAN-PIERRE LOUVEAUX (Food chemist)

  I remember that in the beginning of the ‘90s I had a call from the other side of the Atlantic, when I was in my house in Lyon. The proposition of the multinational company – for which I still work – was concise. As they were expanding in South East Mediterranean, they were creating facilities in Greece and they wanted me to undertake the creation of the chemical laboratory.
After a family meeting, I accepted. Me and my wife would go to Greece and my children would continue on with their studies.
It was not the first time I visited this country. It was, however, the first time I was going to stay for so long. During the first three years of my stay, I have seen, heard and learnt a lot. I came in contact with another culture, different from that of West or Central Europe. A culture, a mentality, which has positive and negative elements. However, one of the characteristics stands outs. The view of the Greek consumer or producer that most of the times the Greek products are of quality.
It is true that during the past years, Greeks have taken huge steps especially as far the apicultural products are concerned. And I will agree now because as a food chemist during the last ten years in the Cooperative, I have performed many analyses both in and out of the Cooperative.
Honeys as those produced in Olympus, the mythical mountain of the gods, which UNESCO has characterized as a global biosphere reservoir, have a unique taste and quality, I believe.
And although I agree that thanks to the sunshine of the country and the hot and dry climate that generates a small production of quality, the Greek apicultural products are excellent, I think Greeks should look into the issue of exports.
It is a fact that Greek consumers prefer Greek products than cheaper foreign counterparts which are not certified for their quality and are imported into the Greek market. But even so, something that I am trying to transfer to the members of the Cooperative as a philosophy is that it cannot be deemed that a country with 1300000 bee swarms and clear quality of products to be addressed only to the national market.
I also remember how much they enjoy hearing and learning about other honeys. When I am in Greece, the conversation and the analyses about honeys from other countries – which I visit as responsible for chemical laboratories of the multinational company for which I work – are time consuming. Metcalfa honey, lychee honey, red tan honey, avocado honey, bloodwood honey, onobrychis honey, calluna, canola, raspberry, buckwheat, manuka honey, etc.
And I remember now that when we are in an educational phase and we control the swarms with no use of smoke but with a sub smoking system with an essential oil mixture (with a specially constructed smoke machine), no member reacts. And they always come – when we have seminars – no matter where they live.
 «You know what», one day a member of the Cooperative told me «we consider you are everything to this Cooperative ».
I do not believe that. I believe that, as I have traveled in this beautiful country – with its positive and negative sides – and have analyzed many Greek apicultural products and compared them with those of other countries, I come to the conclusion that Greeks have one problem: promoting their products. That’s why, training and organization are necessary. This is what is needed and this is the great challenge for them …
 


NO DISCOUNTS WHEN IT COMES TO QUALITY …
By Giorgos Arvanitis *

When in the summer of 2010, the members of the Cooperative during the general meeting assigned the management of the Cooperative to me, I had one condition: that the products for sale of the Cooperative would have a certain quality which will constitute the distinctive difference between our products and other ones.
So even if some people believe that the word “quality” is something that one must search for a lot to find n the market – and I do not agree with this – it is encouraging that more and more people seek it. In entertainment, in clothing, in food. Maybe the problem is that there are still few of us.
I’m now thinking what JEAN-PIERRE always tells us, that in the future, those who offer quality products will prevail. It’s just that the production of quality products cannot be done in a day. Effort, conscience, discipline are necessary. Besides, if you want to get to the end, you must begin from the start. And, above all, make no discounts… First to your conscience and secondly to the quality of your products. These two are tied together. …

*Giorgos Arvanitis is a philology professor of Magnesia, and responsible for the management of the Cooperative “MELICHRYSOS”.