Traditional soaps (Patini)

From Best Practices WIKI
Greece Region of the Ionian Islands Prefecture of Corfù
Municipality Corfù
Sector: Local handicrafts
Product Name Traditional soaps (Patini)

Basic Information

Company details
Organization name: Saponificio Patini di Apostolos Patunis
Contact: Apostolos Patunis
Address - City: Ioannou Theotoki, 9 CORFÙ’
Phone: 0030 26610 20702
Fax: 0030 26610 20704
Contact details: Ioannou Theotoki, 9 CORFU’

Description of Best Practice

In which field can you company consider itself an example of best practice?
Improvement in product quality
Type of best practice?
Names of partners in the case of a collective/integrated project
Brief history of the Pilot Action
Description of the ideas behind the development of this action/project; the initiator(s) of the action/project; the involvement of local partners
(LAG, project operators etc.) in the conception/development of the action/project;how this action/project is embedded in the territorial strategy.
The innovations we have introduced aren’t particularly relevant to the production process. Saponificio Patini has a 150 year long history,
and still today it continues to produce hand-made soap using traditional methods. The true innovation of the product is that we use top
quality olive oil – only virgin olive-oil that has no chemical additives.
In so far as concerns the creation of a consortium for the commercialisation of soap, unfortunately there is not the infrastructure and
technical knowledge that this would need. If there was a serious attempt in this direction I would immediately sign up, in the same way
that I would participate in a stand displaying typical products from Corfu for display in Greece or abroad. A recognition of our soaps as a
typical product would also be expedient, since we were already known in Corfu at the beginning of the 20th Century and are the only
soap manufacturer on the island.
Main activities of the action/project Indication of the main activities planned and carried out, including where and when they took place, and who carried them out (indicating the local operators).
The main actions regard the search for ever more genuine raw materials for the preparation of our soaps. Naturally we have also bought
more modern equipment, which have contributed to a relative reduction in production times and in energy consumption, and to an
increase in productivity. The realisation of all this has been the result only of our own resources, both economic and in terms of technical
knowledge. I should specify that my father, the previous owner of the company, was a chemical engineer, while I am a mechanical
engineer and my wife is a chemist. These types of competencies have been very helpful in improving the production of Patini soaps.
In the past I have tried to participate in programmes of financial support and assistance for traditional products, but my applications
weren’t accepted and no specific motivations were provided. Such procedures, useless and unproductive, have meant only high costs
for our company, both in terms of money and in terms of a slowing down of production. I have reached the conclusion that for
companies like ours it is best not to have relations with public institutions.

Qualitative Information Regarding the Product

Describe the area of production
Are there specific resources that characterize your area of reference? Are they agro-alimentary resources or products of handicraft? Are
there interdisciplinary and inter-territorial integrations that confer an added-value to the product?
Given that the main raw material is olive oil, I think we are advantaged in that Corfu produces a lot of oil, a large amount of which is not
suitable for use as a foodstuff and which we therefore use in the preparation of the soap.

Product Description of its Relationship with the Market

This part of the questionnaire will cover the description of the product with the indication of the characteristics of the raw materials used, and
of the eventual phases of transformation. Please describe and underline, in the description the specific nature of the product and the
production process which differentiates it from other product that fall into the same typology.
We produce 3 types of soap.
Olive oil soap (100% olive oil) – has a limited foaming power but is characterised by its light and hypo-allergenic action.
Green “olive-residue” soap, which contains the chlorophyll of the olive and is characterised by its detersive qualities and by the multitude
of uses to which it is destined.
“Marsiglia-type” soap, made up of virgin olive oil (80%) and edible palm seed oil (20%), is a delicate soap with a rich foam.
Aside from the fundamental ingredients we use soda, salt and water – rigorously without additives in contrast to industrially produced
Describe the characteristics and the origin of the main raw materials used
The raw material is obviously olive oil, which we get exclusively from local producers.
Describe the production process, and the techniques and methodologies used during processing
If the product presents distinctive characteristics in terms of quality, raw materials, techniques and methods of processing, briefly describe.
The procedure used for the production of the soap is as follows: Pour the oil and the soda into the pot and let it boil for a week. We then
pour the mixture obtained in this way onto large wooden trays so that it can dry. We then brand the soaps, cut them with a knife and
leave them for four months in the drying room.
Specify any variations in the product in relation to the different areas and typologies
(E.g: ………in the area of this Municipality ………….. one uses olives that are treated in a different way than in other bordering
As I have already said, the fact that Corfu, from the Venetian era on, has a significant production of olive oil is particularly advantageous
for our soap factory. In this way we can be in direct contact with the producers and check first hand the raw materials.
Describe how the product is presented on the market (state the brand or describe the pack used)
(E.g: “Pane d’ Altamura”(Bread from Altamura) is packaged inside......…... The dimension o f the bag is.... colour, etc ........)
Our soaps are sold loose, and also in packages of 100-130 g, wrapped in shiny paper. They are packaged in cardboard boxes and for
exportation are put on pallets.
Describe the product’s market outlets and its diffusion locally, nationally and internationally
The majority of our product is exported to Japan – a commercial collaboration that arose from my participation in a programme
organised by JETRO (Japan External Trade Organisation), the equivalent of the Greek OPE (Organisation for the Promotion of Exports).
The product is sold:
Only on the local market
(municipality/province/region) 7 % of total sold
Also outside regional borders 3 % of total sold
Also outside national borders 90 % of total sold
State the sales channels used when marketing the product
(More than one ansie is possible: state (or estimate) the percentage of product sold by each canne)
Modern distribution (supermarkets/ ipermarkets) 10 %
Retail /Specialized shops 30 %
Other sales channels (specify) ______telesales (Japan) 70 %
During the process of company improvement aimed at promoting products locally and Europe-wide have you created a
marketing plan?
I haven’t carried out any specific marketing plan, mainly due to my personal belief that the best publicity is that carried out by my
customers and clients themselves.
In spite of this, and on their own initiative, some national newspapers have done a report on “Saponificio Patuni”, and we also recently
gave an interview to a Greek TV station which will be screened in the near future. Our company was also featured on TV by the main
Austrian TV channel, ORF1.
We are planning to create a website of our soap factory – not so much to advertise our products as to inform consumers about natural
olive-oil soaps.
How much did it cost to take forward this best practice? In terms of cost, time and resources?
Specify length, starting date, end, etc.
I can’t give a precise answer. What is certain is that we are constantly seeking to improve, with great personal effort and dedication.
Concrete outputs and results of the action / project
Without doubt, the direct beneficiaries are the consumers of our products, to whom we offer a totally healthy way of looking after one’s
personal hygiene or other types of hygiene, in contrast to the chemical detergents produced by large industries. Our soaps are
compatible with the environment and with the human organism, since they release the pores of the skin, eliminating impurities in an
effective way (fatty substances, dead cells etc.).
Corfu’s olive growers are also benefited, in that a high percentage of the olive oil produced on the island is inedible, but is given a value
where otherwise there wouldn't be one.
Problems encountered; lessons learned
Explanation of the main problems encountered, how they were solved and the lessons learned..
There are always difficulties, above all when one is pursuing the continuous improvement of the final product, and consequently the
supply of ever more genuine raw materials.
The added value of this best practice
...regarding the method, the process and the results. If carried out within a LAG (Local Action Group) describe the way in which Leader+ has brought a
clear added value.
Sales have remained fairly steady, given that on Corfu we are the only company that produces soap. We are succeeding however in
keeping the quality of our product high, and by buying more modern machines (without modifying the method of soap production) we
have increased productivity and reduced energy consumption

Why this Action/Project is a Good Practice?

Area-based approach
This entails defining a development policy on the basis of an area’s own particular situation, in terms of its strengths and weaknesses.
The strong points of our location are the high availability of olive oil, and in particular of highly acidic oil, as well as a considerable
touristic presence.
On the other hand the fact that Corfu is an island, and furthermore very decentralised, doesn’t help the transport situation. Transport
costs are high, and it is not possible to communicate with the centre when lacking materials or equipment.
Bottom-up approach
In general I am unhappy with local and national institutions, since as a general rule there is no information regarding the promotion of
typical local products. Furthermore there is no suitable infrastructure (e.g. technology park, specialised workers), or the technical
knowledge necessary for the strengthening and diffusion of our products. I don’t think this happens intentionally, but rather due to a lack
of awareness.
Approach aimed at promoting partnership
A serious collaboration with other companies producing traditional local products would be useful and interesting. Knowing the mentality,
however, and the lack of infrastructure and technical knowledge, I don’t know how successful a similar attempt would be.
Even if the idea is innovative also the action should be innovative.
Safe-guarding the soap-production method handed down to me by my father, emphasising the pin-pointing and use of exclusively local
and genuine raw materials, avoiding any chemical additives.
Integrated approach
The actions foreseen are coordinated as coherent and integrated group.
Creation of a network and cooperation between areas
No, as I have already said it is difficult that this could be created.

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Name Eduardo Surname Fiorillo
Phone 0030 26610 49467