Greeks have an experiential relationship with cheese. We are, in fact, considered to be its inventors. Homer, in his Odyssey, in the 8th century BC, describes the cheese produced by the Cyclops Polyphemus; this cheese is believed to be the ancestor of Feta cheese. According to the myth, Polyphemus realized one day, to his surprise, that the milk he collected from his sheep and carried in a utricle made from animals’ stomach lining, had turned into a solid, tasty food that could be preserved.

The history of feta cheese is in fact so long that, until recently, cheese in Greece was synonymous with feta. Nowadays, feta - cheese made of 100% goats’ and sheep’s milk - is produced in the following regions: Thessaly, Sterea Ellada, Epirus, Macedonia, Thrace, Peloponnese and the island of Lesvos.

Livestock in Epirus yields the richest and most aromatic milk for the production of feta; this is due to the unique flora of the region with an endless variety of grasses and herbs that grow both by the sea and in its high mountains. This high-quality flavorsome milk meets with the cheese-making skills of the people of Epirus to result in a feta that stands out for its racy flavor and special smell.

In the early 90’s a group of entrepreneurs in cooperation with local cheese-makers founded EPIRUS SA. Their vision was to combine the local art of cheese-making and traditional recipes with technology, in order to produce high-quality feta and other cheeses, securing stability of taste and quality in their products. In 1997, OPTIMA SA, a Greek family business with a long tradition in cheese, acquired 100% of EPIRUS’s shares. EPIRUS has been since operating and growing under the guidance of Pantelis Panteliades, a significant, visionary Greek entrepreneur, with an investment plan for expansion, innovative procedures and human resources that surpassed 35M €.

Significant milestones in the history of EPIRUS:

1994: EPIRUS SA founded in Ammotopos, Arta. It initially produced Feta, Kefalograviera and Mizithra (hard whey cheese) . It was the first company in Greece to produce feta, pre-packed in brine, for optimum preservation.
1995: OPTIMA takes over the distribution while, in the same year, EPIRUS starts exporting its products; today, exports make for 15% of sales.
1996: Launch of EPIRUS Graviera.
1997: OPTIMA acquires 100% of EPIRUS.
1997: Launch of EPIRUS Kefalotiri.
1997: EPIRUS becomes the first cheese-making company to be certified with ISO 9001:2000. It has since received other significant certifications such as ISO 2200 and IFS.
1998: In cooperation with the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, EPIRUS starts producing the 1st ever graviera with probiotics.
1999: The product range expands with EPIRUS Goat Cheese, from 100% goat’s milk (the 1st 100% goat’s cheese in Greece) & EPIRUS Concentrated Butter.
2004: With a workforce of 140 full-time and seasonal employees EPIRUS becomes the largest production plant in the prefecture of Arta.
2007: Milk is now collected exclusively by trucks that are fully-owned by EPIRUS; they are equipped with pre-cooled milk tanks and have been distributed to all the co-operating farmers.

2007: EPIRUS Feta wins the Gold Prize at the first cheese competition to take place in Greece, within the framework of the 1st Hellenic Milk & Cheese Festival. To date, EPIRUS has won 18 awards and distinctions for its products.
2007: EPIRUS operates a photovoltaic park for the production and sale of energy (1st in Western Greece) with a capacity of 20KWh since 21/09/2007.
2007: Launch of Logadi Epirus, a traditional semi-hard cheese with only 17% fat.
2008: Epirus Light White, with a fat content of 12%, is launched.
2007-2009: The production & packaging department is re-organized (an investment of 17M €)
2012: Epirus Zemitha is launched, the only grated cheese on the market with less than 1% fat.
2013: Launch of Epirus Oikogeneiako.

Today EPIRUS SA employs a workforce of 180, co-operates with a network of 350 suppliers and collects milk from 1,500 farmers.

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