Tradition and love for the agri-food industry
by Danae Bersi, Content Creator, New Agriculture New Generation

Talking to Antonia Poriazi, beneficiary of the Regeneration Academy for Food Innovation program

Antonia Poriazi is a young scientist in the agri-food sector, having a deep family tradition that she dreams of developing. Antonia participated in the Regeneration Academy for Food Innovation program implemented by the non-profit organization "New Agriculture New Generation" in collaboration with ReGeneration Greece, for this very reason. We had the chance to talk and she described to me her experiences and her plans for the future.

Antonia comes from the beautiful Lemnos. She decided to study in Thessaloniki, in the "Food Technology" department of the then Alexandre Technological Educational Institute from which she graduated a year and a half ago. The reason that made her work in the agri-food sector, is the great tradition that her family has in the sector, as from 1919, her great-grandmother founded the family business "Poriazi-Lemnos Family", which produces its own local flour of Lemnos which uses to produce various types of rusks but also local pasta, which in fact in the local dialect of Lemnos are called “thlomaria”.

"Growing up on the island, but also in a food business, I discovered that I really liked both the food part and the inspections that take place every year," she tells me.

Tradition and love for the agri-food industry

After graduating and doing her internship in a biscuit industry in Diavata, she immediately started working for Unismack, a company that specializes in savory gluten free snacks and is based in Kiklis. At Unismack, where she currently works, she works in the Quality Department of the company, while at the same time he is actively involved in the development of new products.

Nevertheless, it seems that her place calls her back as she tells me that in a few weeks she will return to Lemnos to deal with the family business. Her decision to return was made very quickly. "I'm very happy with my job here at Unismack," she tells me. "However, as a program was approved which is carried out in collaboration with our family business, "Poriazi-Lemnos Family" and the University of the Aegean, the position of food technologist emerged who will work with the University to develop new products. And that was something I did not want to lose. " And she adds that "I feel that I would not find a more ideal moment, a more perfect situation than this, to return back to Lemnos!"

As for their family business, it is a vertical unit that deals with both the primary sector, as they have fields on the island where local varieties of wheat and barley are grown, as well as contract farming as they give the seed to the farmers and then buy crops from them. Antonia feels that it is time for her to contribute in the development of this family tradition. "Right now, we are the 4th generation, me, my sisters and my cousins who are in business. And of course, together is the 3rd generation, that of our parents ", she tells me.

Her participation in the Regeneration Academy for Food Innovation

Although Antonia had already found a job in the agri-food industry at the time she applied for the Regeneration Academy for Food Innovation program, she felt that the program had a lot to offer her.

So, learning about the program online, she decided to apply for her participation, which was accepted. "I know that perhaps for most people the goal of participating in this program is probably to find a job. However, reading the content of the program and seeing the renowned professionals who participated, I aimed to hear and learn things that I was sure would offer me a lot in my professional career in the future ", she tells me.

The important thing for her is that she gained a lot of knowledge, not only about food, but also about business management, supply chain processes, the promotion part and much more, she tells me. "I gained many things, such as that I met many renowned people through my participation in the program and at the same time, I met other young men and women with passion like me, with whom we exchanged views.This was something I liked very much, you do not easily find people with the same interests and the same goals ", she tells me while adding that," the program covered a wide range of topics that I found useful from the very first moment. I used them immediately in the job I am in now and I am sure that I will need them in the future ".

The first meetings of the program were able to take place up close, with the participants having the opportunity to meet for a while, before the 2nd wave of the coronavirus pandemic broke out. The rest of the meetings, although held online, did not seem to disappoint Antonia at all. "I have to admit that our online meetings were not much different from being close together. The presentations were equally perfect and efficient ", she tells me.

Antonia claims impressed by her participation in the Regeneration Academy for Food Innovation. As she characteristically tells me, “I am absolutely happy with my participation in the program. The organization was excellent, even when the 'New Agriculture New Generation' was called in such a short time to do the whole process online, the information was impeccable and the management as well." While laughing, she adds that "Besides, I have already recommended to many of my friends to register for the next Regeneration Academy for Food Innovation!".

Return to her roots and continuing the tradition

Antonia's plans are structured and methodical, like her. Her first goal is to continue her studies through a postgraduate program, which is more oriented to the fields of organization and administration, something that will help the family business even more.

At the same time, she intends to continue the family tradition, together with her sisters and cousins. Her dream is to be able to expand the business and be able to promote their products, both inside and outside Greece. "I have a lot of ideas and a lot of love and appetite for work "she tells me, while finally adding that “I believe that in the "Poriazi-Lemnos Family" we will be able to develop new products, always made with deep love for the place and its people".