by Vicky Kaliakou

Εverybody likes pasta: delicious, easy to cook, healthy, inexpensive and long-term storage product.

According to the International Pasta Organisation, in 2019 worldwide consumption was at 16.5 million tonnes, up from 7 million in 1999. The pandemic gave an even bigger boost to this trend.

Greece is the 4th biggest pasta consumer in the world with 11.4kg per capita per year, following world champion Italy with 23.1kg, Tunisia 17kg and Venezuela 12kg. Not surprised? Check this out: in 2019 Greece exported $56.9m in pasta, making it the 28th largest exporter of pasta in the world (OEC).

A leading Greek pasta exporter, the number one pasta producer in Greece and one of the oldest brands is MAKVEL.

Based in the industrial area of Kilkis, in Northern Greece, the state of the art vertically integrated company employs around 130 specialized and experienced workers and exports Greek pasta to more than 50 countries all over the world (Britain, Germany, Central and Southern Europe, Russia, the USA, Canada, China, Japan, Cuba, Northeast Asia, Brazil and more).

EURIMAC’s privately owned building plot in Kilkis

The privately owned building plot with a total area of 55,000m2 and 25,000m2 of covered space, includes a durum wheat processing mill (milling 330 tons of durum wheat per day), silos with a total storage capacity of 35,000 tons, a production unit with 5 automated production lines, 12 packaging lines, 6 cartoning lines, 2 robotic palletizing and pallet wrapping systems, a warehouse of 10,000 pallets on 8 levels, 2 warehouses for packaging, a 235m-deep drill pumping water for the kneading and a biomass combustion boiler complex. It serves a multiform customer base including retail and foodservice, private label and strong own-brands.

“The production capacity of the company amounts to 72,000 tons of pasta per year. With the installation of the 6th pasta production line, in September 2021, the production capacity will increase to 90,000 tons. The company’s production is shared by 45% in exports and by 55% in the Greek market in quantity of pasta. The strategy of strengthening sales in new foreign markets to increase exports from 45% to 50% in the next 5 years and the corresponding improvement of the above balance in favor of exports includes the utilization of the company’s international strategic partnerships, the focus on new categories of innovative products as well as investing in new specialized human resources,’’ says Mr. Pantelis Konstantinidis, third generation of the family business and Vice President of EURIMAC S.A.

Pantelis Konstantinidis, Vice President at EURIMAC S.A.

11 billion investment by the end of 2021

EURIMAC‘s sales in value in 2020, compared to 2019, had an annual increase of 2% and amounted to €37,200 million, while sales in volume exceeded 58,500 tons, ranking the company for the 3rd consecutive year as the No.1 Greek pasta producer. This success story didn’t come by chance nor without a business plan. “The company has invested more than €60 million in total, since its establishment, including the latest 3-year investment program of €11 million to be completed in 2021,” Pantelis Konstantinidis (PHOTO) tells GBF. “By September 2021, a 6th pasta production line will be added with 3 packaging lines, 1 cartoning line and 1 robotic palletizing and pallet wrapping system. The 4th durum wheat storage silos installed in April 2021 will be operational shortly before the durum wheat harvest period in early June. Their storage capacity amounts to 22,000 tons, increasing the total to 57,000 tons. The investment will give the company the opportunity to store raw materials for more than 6 months and proceed to purchases taking advantage of the opportunities sometimes offered in the durum wheat market,” he adds.

EURIMAC anticipated the loss of sales in the foodservice business (hotels, restaurants, catering), and multiplied its efforts in sales in other fields (PL and brand for supermarkets, export activity etc.). As a result, the company more than compensated the quantity lost in its foodservice business. On the other hand, this performance was greatly assisted by the fact that it carries forward no bank loans, something that allows the company to have a flexible sales strategy.

The company has set as a strategic goal to invest in the application of Industry 4.0 technologies and environmental policies, in order to achieve the conversion of its inert data into information that will be aligned and transferred quickly and reliably to all its departments by 2025: a) the installation of software to produce high-quality durum wheat, b) the implementation of the Green Design of the Distribution Network and c) the addition of sensors in durum wheat storage silos for the purpose of excellent storage of raw material.

More specifically, in the software aimed at the production of high-quality durum wheat, it will be possible to register land parcels and read their geographical locations, their soil type and physicochemical properties, sowing date, cultivated variety’s characteristics and growth rate, water and nutrient needs and production targets. The above data will be combined with the input of weather data that will be extracted from the network of meteorological stations to make decisions on the adaptation of cultivation methods and the predicted harvest date. Also, the Green Planning of the Distribution Network will optimize the percentage of use of vehicles and unnecessary routes to reduce fuel. Lastly, the sensors will read data on temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide and oxygen concentration inside the silos. The data will be sent to a special application to be analyzed, predicting potential risks to the product and proposing corrective actions,” Pantelis explains.

Pantelis Konstantinidis and Stavros Konstantinidis at the old MAKVEL factory

Ζero-carbon footprint & the Mount Belles’ “blessed” water

EURIMAC S.A. has a zero-carbon footprint and produces its products with 100% Green Energy. According to Mr. Konstantinidis, green energy is achieved not only due to the production of thermal energy from the biomass combustion boiler but also because electricity, with a capacity of 16.5 GWh per year, is completely covered by Renewable Energy Sources. Specifically, the biomass combustion boiler, with a capacity of 41.6 GWh per year, covers all the needs of the production process in thermal energy and ensures the appropriate environmental conditions in the pasta production unit during the winter. The boiler has been constructed in Greece according to Italian know-how of construction and operation, and is supervised electronically.

From 2020, the company utilizes superior quality water for the kneading of pasta thanks to a 235m-deep drill, pumping water from the aquifer of the Belles mountain range. Water has special organoleptic elements and nutritional values, such as low salt content, high content of calcium, magnesium (facilitating digestion), steady temperature and Ph, and it is rich in sodium bicarbonate, after a detailed study conducted in 2019,” the Vice President explains.

The company has obtained certificates of energy control and application of standards – namely, EN ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems, aimed at saving the consumption of raw materials and other resources, continuous improvement of environmental performance and prevention of pollution, EN ISO 14064 Greenhouse Gas Accounting and Verification Systems, as a tool for tackling climate change, and EN ISO 50001 Energy Management Systems, as a means of implementing processes that will lead to the proper use of energy and therefore to the optimization of energy efficiency. MAKVEL pasta is already labeled with green energy and exported pasta is labeled as carbon-free or with zero-carbon footprint,” he added.

The €11 million investment program also includes a 1000KW photovoltaic station that will be installed by the end of the year.

The full article on Makvel is published in the May/ June 2021 issue of Greek Business File, available here