The Austrian family Bläuel began over 35 years ago to convince small farmers in the Greek Mani of the benefits of organic farming and has accompanied more than 300 farmers in the transition to this day. It is thanks to the commitment of the senior partner Fritz and his wife Burgi Bläuel that the first ecological olive oil in Greece has been ever produced. Today their son Felix is Junior Chef of the very successful business with organic olive oils and olives. In a respectful, fair cooperation with small farmers, the company contributes to the preservation of traditional olive cultivation. The fruits are processed very gently. The result is award-winning olive oils, olive products and mezes (Greek appetizers) – known under the brand Mani Bläuel.
Interview with Bläuel
Tell us a little about your company. When and how you started your business?
In the late 1970s Fritz and Burgi Bläuel came looking for alternative forms of life and economy as dropouts in the Mani in Greece. Soon they started together with growers in the region an ecological agriculture and the production of the finest olive oil. With entrepreneurial foresight, appreciation for the people and the cultural landscape of Mani and much persuasion and enthusiasm, they managed to convince gradually more and more farmers of the benefits of organic agriculture and the associated market opportunities. The result was the first organic olive oil in Greece, which is exported worldwide today. Since 2009 son Felix is part of the management and sets new impulses for the future of the company, such as the Naturland Fair certification, which makes the long-term environmental and social commitment of the company transparent and controllable.
We would like to know about the raw materials used. Where to you purchase? By what criteria to select and how important to you?
The raw materials for our Mediterranean delicacies come from organic agriculture from small farmers in Greece, mostly from the region Mani. Best quality of raw materials, gentle processing and traditional recipes promise 100% natural enjoyment – free from preservatives, flavor enhancers and no artificial additives. The products are lactose / gluten-free, vegan and organic. Partly also officially certified raw food quality and via Naturland Fair. We give our valuable natural products the time they need to reach their full flavor. The addition of artificial additives is not an option for us. Our Kalamata olives ripen naturally on the tree and are harvested only when they have reached the correct degree of ripeness, recognizable by the dark purple to black coloring. The Mani Bläuel table olives are produced very traditionally: gently harvested, bitterness is removed naturally by Greek tradition and carefully processing. The immediate packaging after processing in airtight jars or as an insert in olive oil makes the Mani Bläuel olive natural stable.
What features do you think are the Greek products in the international market?
There are good prospects for Greek products in international markets. 99% of our sales are outside Greece, for example to Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, USA, Canada, Russia, China, Japan, England, Holland and other countries. It is important that the products meet the high quality requirements of consumers. This includes an attractive product design but also the transmission of content, such as craftsmanship and quality features as our Naturland Fair certification or the raw quality of some of our products.
What are the main challenges to be faced by a Greek producer today? And on the other, what is it you love about your job?
In Greece we need a structural change, which must be initiated by politics. As a first priority, the structures of the Greek administrative system have to be modernized. That’s easy to say, but refers to a very complex task. Also, a reduction in corporate tax would help. After all, there is, for example, in neighboring Bulgaria, a flat tax of 10% and thousands of companies are already migrated from Greece in the neighboring country. The attractiveness of Greece as a business location must be increased. To improve the situation, a business-friendly climate has to be created and also modern entrepreneurship needs to make use of it.
What makes your products special? Describe some of them.
Our products promise best quality of raw materials, they are gently processed according to traditional recipes and most of our olive products have been awarded the Naturland Fair seal. One of the favorite products of our customers is the Olivenmix al naturale from green spicy Amfissa-table olives and mild, juicy kalamata olives. The olives are marinated with extra virgin olive oil and oregano and directly vacuum-packed – for pure taste in the finest raw food quality! All Mani Bläuel olives are carefully harvested and bitterness is removed in a natural way, without the addition of preservatives. A true delicacy. Pure as a starter, in salads or as a barbecue side dish. Particularly aromatic is our Kalamata olive paste, a typical Greek meze (appetizer). For them fine Kalamata organic olives, selected herbs and Mani Bläuel organic olive oil are processed. Their typical, fruity flavor is so unique that it can be blind tasted. On toasted bread the Kalamata olive paste tastes especially good. The classic among our products is the award-winning Greek olive oil. The Mani Bläuel Greek extra virgin olive oil convinces with its fresh, mildly fruity aroma of almond, artichoke and wild herbs. Only recently it was again awarded the internationally renowned BIOL Gold Award in 2016 in Italy, and with gold at the New York International Olive Oil Competition 2015. All our olive oils are obtained segregated from the Koroneiki olive. We choose only the best olive oils of smaller farms that manage their groves traditionally. All our olive oils are in raw food quality. Our range includes a total of more than twenty products. All products are suitable for a vegetarian or vegan diet.
Why did you choose to enter the box MontlyFlavors; We would like to send a message to our subscribers in Greece and abroad.
The advantage on the Monthly Flavors Box is that customers get a surprise every month and the chance to discover new products. He will find new brands and products that might not have been known or tried. The special feature of the Monthly Flavors Box is the fact that it focuses on Mediterranean specialties and thus brings Mediterranean flair to European kitchens. It is ideal for lovers of Mediterranean cuisine, which can try and enjoy so new products and recipes.