Greek Business File, January-February-March 2020, No 124

By Symela Touchtidou

Bringing Greece’s “liquid gold” to the international healthy food market.

E-LA-WON, which started by offering upmarket extra virgin olive oil and is now producing various agricultural products, is determined to show the world that Greece is capable of unique top quality products, innovative entrepreneurship and sustainable growth.

The name, E-LA-WON, dates back to the Mycenaeans and their syllabic script, Linear B, more than 3.500 years ago. The products fall into the category of the prominent healthy foods and the company is one of the most modern in contemporary Greece.

How did all these come together?

It is the lifetime achievement of a teacher, Ioannis Kampouris.

E-LA-WON started by offering a series of upmarket extra virgin olive oil products, of premium quality. It next moved on to produce a variety of agricultural products that excel in quality and originality: honey, pestos and sweets. Nowadays the company, based in Athens, Greece, offers 30 different products

The core of the company is olive oil:  E-LA-WON Premium, E-LA-WON Green Fresh and E-LA-WON Traditional are the three types.

They are all produced from the famous olive variety “Koroneiki” at the family owned olive farm in the region of Peloponnese. The “Koroneiki” variety, its name deriving from the Peloponnese historic town of Koroni, is known as the “Queen of oil producing olive trees”.

E-LA-WON ‘s olives are harvested just once a year, while still green, to ensure top quality. Harvesting takes place in early October, the time when all the aromas, flavors and nutrients are in their peak. The olives are squeezed, crust and spunned just 30 minutes after harvest, to make sure that all their precious ingredients, especially the polyphenols, the valuable antioxidants that support the immune system, are secured.

The company follows a simple and pure extraction procedure in accordance with sustainability laws. E-LAWON takes the “gold liquid” of the olives and stores it in stainless tanks with nitrogen, to avoid oxidation and unwanted enzymes. Thus, it guarantees that all its oil has an intense fruitiness, maintaining very low acidity.

The oil is exquisitely packaged in bottles imported from Italy that resemble those used in the fragrance industry. Nitrogen is induced in the head space of the bottles, so that the freshness of the olive juice is preserved along with its organoleptic and chemical characteristics.

From oil to pesto

“A company must ensure an advantage against its competitors” notes E-LAWON’s CEO, Ioannis Kampouris talking to Business File. “You cannot just present what everybody else presents and keep your production in a flat line, without standing out for something”.

This is the mentality of E-LA-WON. This is the reason why it could not limit itself to just olive oil. The next innovation challenge was the “pestos”. Named after the traditional Italian sauces based on basil and olive oil, they are an original idea to flavor a healthy diet. They can be used as a topping for tapas or bruschettas or as part of sauces for pasta and rice.

Such a delicious example is the Sundried Tomato Pesto. It is made from small tomatoes from the island of Santorini, naturally dried in the sun and enriched with mastic from the island of Chios, basil and honey.

The company also sells honey and sweets, all with high nutritive value. 70% of E-LA-WON’s products are sold outside Greece, to consumers that are familiar with and appreciate healthy foods.

The main markets of E-LA-WON’s products are in Central and Northern Europe, followed by Canada and the USA, plus the United Arab Emirates. Some of its products have also reached the Russian market.

The flagship of the E-LA-WON company is E-LA-WON Luxury.

More than just another extra virgin top quality olive oil, E-LA-WON Luxury prides itself as being the most expensive oil of the world.

Its secret?

E-LA-WON Luxury’s bottles contain edibl e gold flakes. It is anexceptionally healthy food, rich in oleocanthal that protect the cardiovascular system and off er anti-aging protection. Moreover, a recent study by the University of Louisiana showed that oleocanthal rich extra virgin olive can be used to appease the symptoms of the Alzheimer’s disease.

The royals, the prices, the future

The E-LA-WON Luxury olive oil was the pioneer. It is now followed by soap, honey, olives, rose petal sweets, all including edible gold. They make up the ELA-WON Ultra Luxury family of products. Thus the extravagant prices. E-LA-WON Ultra Luxury olive oil costs a bit more than 2.000 euros per liter. It is available in limited edition and it is mostly sold as part of gifts shared by royals and entrepreneurs across the world.

“We are represented by a local company in Abu Dhabi. It promotes the Ultra Luxury series in different kingdoms. The Ultra Luxury series is mostly included in gift bags either exchanged between royal families, or given away during global conventions and business conferences” notes Mr. Kampouris.

The products are cherished by both consumers and critics.

E-LA-WON has been awarded more than 60 prizes at national and international competitions for the quality and the design of its products. The company has also been awarded for implementing cyclical economy practices and contributing to sustainable growth.

Its soaps are an example. They are made from olive oil that is excluded from the extra virgin olive oil production. Moreover, organic leftovers from production (leaves, branches, kernels etc) are recycled to be used as fertilizers of the land.

From the family farm to the global markets

So, how did a professor of Greek history and literature managed to become an innovative entrepreneur in the agricultural sector?

It all goes back to the childhood memories of a boy raised in a farm, surrounded by olive trees.

“My memories come from the blue color of the Aegean sea and sky” describes I. Kampouris on the front page of E-LAWON’s website. “This is my paradise on the edge of Mediterranean and it is painted with the silver color of the olive tree”.

Ioannis Kampouris was born and raised on the island of Imbros (modern Turkey) and studied in Istanbul. His family came to Greece in the 1970’s.

They brought their heritage with them. Ioannis Kampouris made a successful career as a professor and at the same time he started buying land to cultivate olive trees. “At the beginning I was just trying to keep close to nature. I was raised this way” he explains. The oil produced was meant for family and friends. Then came the Greek financial crisis.

Watching the country’s youth migrate abroad for a better future, Kampouris decided to create in Greece a better future for young people. E-LA-WON’s purpose is exactly this: to show the world that Greece is capable of unique top quality products, innovative entrepreneurship and sustainable growth.

“We are not a big company, but we are very well organized with sound fundamentals.” Kampouris says. “We have no debt burden and we make a profi t. Our over 60 prizes prove that we offer quality. We count on innovation. We can grow furthermore. The healthy food market will reach a 51 billion euros size in the near future. We will be part of it”.