Terra Creta's booth and others at the Korean exhibition of European organic products

Emmanouil Karpadakis, marketing manager and olive oil exporter at Terra Creta in Crete, recently returned from his second trip to South Korea. This time, he was participating in the EU-GATEWAY mission to promote EU organic products in Korea. Terra Creta was one of five Greek enterprises selected to participate in this expedition of 50 European companies.

According to the EU Gateway │Business Avenues website, this is part of “an initiative funded by the European Union helping European companies to establish long-lasting business collaborations in Asia.” 2200 European companies are embarking on 44 one-week business missions over 5 years, from 2016 to 2020, in 8 different sectors in Southeast Asia, China, and Korea.

Companies selected to participate in the program “benefit from a range of business support services, which includes coaching, logistical, and financial support.” So after Karpadakis arrived in Seoul, South Korea, he attended a briefing session that included coaching about the local business culture as well as a market survey. This helped him prepare for a 2-day exhibition that included Terra Creta’s organic extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

After the exhibition, Karpadakis engaged in two days of business to business meetings with Korean companies. He was pleased that some of the businesspeople he met knew about Terra Creta, perhaps because his company already has two importers in the country. He expects to establish new business relationships as a result of these meetings. 

Most of the other participants seemed to Karpadakis to have enjoyed productive meetings as well. He commented that it “was a very well organized event,” with all details carefully planned and interpretation services available as needed, although both English and Korean were spoken. He estimated that 70% of his meetings were conducted successfully in English, and that each visiting company had between seven and fifteen meetings.

Five Greek companies with certified organic products participated in this mission: in addition to Terra Creta, there were Kourellas with dairy products, EPSA with soft drinks, Bio-Fresh with juice, and Alexandros with chocolates. A total of five companies selling olive oil participated: one each from Greece, Portugal, Spain, Germany, and Sweden—the last two countries importing some of their olive oil from Greece for re-export.

Karpadakis was pleased with his “unique experience” at this EU Gateway mission: “I appreciate a lot the country and Koreans. They show respect and are well organized…they are reliable, and they know how to work and cooperate.” Moreover, Koreans seem to “like Greece for a variety of reasons.” And they are clearly interested in Greek extra virgin olive oil!

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