«Opportunities and Challenges Facing New Entrepreneurs in the Agri-Food Sector»

The opportunities and challenges facing entrepreneurs starting out in the agri-food sector were the main topic of the seminar organized by the Center for Agri-Food Entrepreneurship in Messinia (CAEM) on Monday, May 21, in Kalamata. During the seminar, distinguished scientists and successful entrepreneurs imparted their accumulated knowledge and experience on agri-food entrepreneurship issues. The aim of the seminar was to highlight the requirements and critical points for the creation of a successful agri-food business. At the end of the CAEM’s fourth round of experiential seminars aimed at adults, 40 participation certificates were given.

The program of the speeches was as follows:

The seminar began with the presentation of Mr. Panagiotis Boretos, Commercial Manager – Deputy Managing Director of IRI Hellas, who talked about examining the behavior and satisfaction of consumers when they are at the stores. From the survey results he presented, it became evident that consumers are more aware now than they were in the past. Also based on the results, he pointed out the consumers’ strong preference for private label products. Finally, he provided evidence of the value of modern analytical tools in designing and implementing promotional actions with measurable results.

Next, Dr. Alexios Leandros Skaltsounis, Professor of Pharmacognosy and Chemistry of Natural Products at the National Kapodistrian University of Athens, presented the reasons behind the increased demand for aromatic-medicinal plants worldwide. He talked about their uses in the pharmaceutical, perfumery, cosmetics, food and beverage industries, and in new products, such as agrochemicals (insecticides, herbicides). He also provided financial data on international trade and sales of aromatic-medicinal plants. The presentation included analyses of a collection of Greek biodiversity plant species, with an emphasis on those ingredients that promote good health.

Ms. Evangelia Koutsovoulou, entrepreneur and founder of the aromatic plants export company “Daphnis and Chloe,” talked about her endeavor to export Greek herbs. The idea for “Daphnis and Chloe” came about three years ago, when she discovered that many Greek aromatic plants are of great quality and value compared to their Mediterranean equivalents; at the same time, she discovered that there were no companies that were seriously invested in the more special varieties we come across in Greece. The aromatic plants of “Daphnis and Chloe,” apart from being available online, have found their place on the shelves of select delis in Milan, London, San Francisco, and New York.

The next talk was by Mr. Nektarios Zeibekis, commercial development consultant, who presented a new sales philosophy. More specifically, he presented a different, “fresher” approach, useful for people who work in the sales field, irrespective of their experience or position. He also referred to smart salespeople techniques and the need to design an integrated and well-structured, scientifically documented, statistically proven and practically effective sales methodology.

Mr. Konstantinos Andrianopoulos, co-founder of the “Kalamata School of Tourism,” presented the results of the “Polystari” project, part of the “Agritourism” section of the seminar. Polystari is an abandoned settlement in Kastania, belonging to the former Municipality of Petalidi. It is built at an altitude of 210 m, and the area was inhabited before 1700, according to a Venetian census record. The study, which centers on the redevelopment of an abandoned village into an agritourism destination with proposals for mild development plans, was carried out with the participation of the “Agritourism” seminar participants.

Finally, Dr Philippos Papadopoulos, Director of the Strategic Projects Office of the American Farm School in Thessaloniki, presented the course of the Center from its founding to this day, as well as the consulting services it offers to new businesses.