THESSALONIKI – MEVGAL, one of Greece’s leading dairies, celebrated its 70th anniversary last year. Located in the heart of the well-known northern Greece pasturelands of Koufalia, the milk processing plant offers the freshness and premium quality in its wide range of pasteurized dairy products: milk, yogurt (both traditional Greek and European styles), cheeses, desserts, and rice puddings.
MEVGAL Exports Director George Vanidis spoke with The National Herald about the company’s good news despite difficult times.
The National Herald: Tell us about MEVGAL celebrating its 70th anniversary.
George Vanidis: We are really proud and happy that in 2020 we celebrated 70 years from the founding of MEVGAL back in 1950 by Konstantinos Chatzakos. Mary Chatzakou, daughter of Konstantinos, took over the reins in 2016 and as the CEO and Vice President of the Company she is leading MEVGAL into a new era. In 2020, MEVGAL’s turnover reached almost 120 million euros with a rich milk, yogurt, and cheese portfolio.
TNH: How has the pandemic affected the company?
GV: From the very first moment of the pandemic, MEVGAL continued to provide to all its clients a high level of service – either in Greece or abroad – without any delays or problems. We owe this to the people of MEVGAL, who demonstrated great professionalism and responsibility, despite the difficult conditions under which we had to operate. We implemented remote working from the very beginning, increased our material stock, and in general we did everything needed in order not to have to stop production even for a single day.
Risk diversification at all levels is one of MEVGAL’s key principles and this helped the company to withstand the difficulties imposed by the pandemic. In the Greek market, there were significant losses in the HORECA sector which were fortunately offset by the increase in retail sales. This led to an overall equilibrium on turnover for the Greek market. Exports on the other hand, which are much less vulnerable to HORECA downturns, performed really well, showing an 11% annual increase reaching almost 40 million euros, an all-time high figure for MEVGAL’s exports. The United States played a significant role in this since we managed to set up new business with Costco and Aldi in the U.S. market.
TNH: Tell us more about the exports of MEVGAL products.
GV: The ‘MEVGAL Export Team’ as we call it, consists of 10 people who are responsible for one third of the total turnover of the company. We export our products to 35 countries, with our main focus being in Europe and the United States. The two best sellers are the famous Authentic Greek Yogurt and, of course, feta, the queen of the Greek dairy industry. While in Europe our main focus is in yogurt, in the United States, feta is dominating the market. As I said, in 2020 we almost reached a turnover of 40 million euros, an all-time high for MEVGAL’s exports, while in the first six months of 2021 we continue with even greater momentum, exceeding a 20% exports increase versus the first six months of 2020.
TNH: What are some of the favorite recipes using MEVGAL products?
GV: We are constantly searching for new recipes that follow the dietary trends of our generation and which everyone can find on our website: www.mevgal.com/recipes.
Some examples are the Tropical Green Smoothie Bowl made with our creamy Authentic Lactose Free Greek Yogurt and a salad made with feta, avocado, and chickpeas. Traditional Greek recipes such as the well-known Greek salad made with our feta cheese or with tzatziki sauce are also recipes that we enjoy! Being a company that invests in digital we also have to be alert for recipes that are trends on social media platforms such us a Tik-Tok favorite: the delicious recipe Feta Baked Pasta, which we also recreated!
TNH: What is the company working on next?
GV: MEVGAL recently completed an investment project of approximately five million euros in order to increase capacity and further modernize yogurt production. This September, we will begin another investment project, this time for our feta production, which in its full deployment it will reach another five million euros. Our feta and Authentic Greek Yogurt are the flag-products of MEVGAL, especially in exports, thus the Company continues to invest in optimizing these sectors. On the commercial level, Europe remains the core of our exports activity but at the same time, the U.S. market has become one of our top priorities.
Last, but not least, MEVGAL has started to invest in Digital Marketing. You can visit our newly designed website at www.mevgal.com where you can browse through the history of MEVGAL and check our delicious recipes with feta and authentic Greek yogurt. We have recently set up social media accounts in four European countries where we post material weekly as part of our digital campaigns, promoting Greece and the Greek diet through our products.