Business / sustainability
Helios Gea Istria
The Istrian region is known to be one of the best regions in the world suitable for olive growing. But not many know that the by-product of olive pressing, the process in which the olive oil is produced called pomace or olive cake (Croatian: komina), also has numerous medicinal qualities. While most olive oil producers have the problem of disposing of ‘waste’ from pressing olives to make oil, Neva Jurman Pauletić recognised the possibilities of olive pomace. She founded Helios Gea, the only company in the world to use processed organic olive pomace in cosmetics.
Not only has she patented the process of making olive pomace, but she also makes her line of natural organic cosmetics based on pomace. Her procedure of extracting a medically approved and active element from olive cake for cosmetic use was awarded at the International Innovation Exhibition in Zagreb, International Trade Fair (IENA) in Germany and by the International Federation of Inventory Association (IFIA).
We asked Neva Jurman a few questions about her brand, the process and her cosmetics product lines. We also wanted to know more about her plans for the future.
The process of making
How did you come up with the idea to use olive pulp biomass in the cosmetics industry?
The idea of processing the olive pulp biomass was born after seeing how the local olive growers dispose of the fleshy olive tissue, throwing it in nature. My company was born in 2009, from the idea of making use of that so-called ‘waste’. We conducted numerous research studies in cooperation with universities from Lecce and Padua in Italy.
The result of our research is an innovative way of processing olive pulp that produces a healthy, active element that can be used for cosmetic purposes.
Olive husk pomace is still seen as a waste, and there is a significant concern about the disposal. Since you have been successfully using it for the last ten years, has anything changed in the way that people see the pomace?
We are the only company that allows olive growers productive disposal of olive pomace for cosmetic purposes, which helps to preserve the ecological balance in Istria. Unfortunately, we are a small producer, and other uses of the pomace should be encouraged to prevent throwing it in nature.
Why do you think that the pomace is seen as a waste?
The olive pulp consists of various microorganisms that corrode and get into the soil, which can cause contamination of the groundwater. Our innovation aims to offer local olive growers an alternative and productive disposal for olive pulp waste.
Can you share with us the process of making usable olive oil pomace? Do you have your own facilities, or do you have partners in this process?
Freshly harvested ripe olives must be transported to oil mills within 48 hours, after which they are carefully processed at temperatures not higher than 40°C and turned into high-quality olive oil. After the extraction of olive oil has been completed, what remains is the olive pulp – our ‘green gold’.
The olive pomace we use in our products is strictly controlled. It comes from eco farms throughout the Istrian peninsula. The process consists of five delicate phases that we researched and developed in collaboration with our partner in Italy and patented. The result is a medically approved active element from the olive pulp, which can be used in cosmetics.
How do you educate people about your products?
We hold presentations to our retail customers who then educate their clients about the benefits of our products. We would like to have more support from the media and are very grateful for your assistance.
The 45 Degrees cosmetics
The best way to show the benefits of the new, active material is to put it to use in order to make the end product. Neva decided to make premium, natural cosmetic products based on the organic pulp – the 45 Degrees cosmetics. The line consists of body cream and polish, hand cream and mask, and foot balm.
The idea for a product brand name came from the Istrian municipality of Bale, where Helios Gea is located. The southernmost part of Bale is situated on the 45th parallel, the halfway point between the Equator and the North Pole, placing it at the ‘golden middle’ with a perfect climate. Brandz Agency signs the visual identity and packaging design.
45 Degrees has two different lines of products – for personal and professional use. Is there a difference between them besides the volume?
Our current product range is based on six professional body care products and five retail body care products. It is a small line of body cosmetics but very creative. The difference between the individual and professional products is in the concentration of active ingredients. The latter has a higher concentration of active ingredients and are formulated for special treatments in the cabin.
Who are the customers of your cosmetic products? What is their profile, and how do you reach them?
The products are categorised as a special purpose cosmetics as it helps with various skin problems and is positioned in the upper premium segment. Our customers are spa institutes and wellness in hotel segments and specialised food shops. Most of our customers are tourists. We would like to have more domestic clients, but for now, our primary focus is hotels.
You mentioned hotels, for instance, wellness treatments in Maistra hotels. Who are your other collaborations in the tourist sector?
Maistra recognised the potential of our products a few years ago. We also cooperate with the Valamar group all over Croatia, Jadranka hotels in Lošinj, Jadran hotels Crikvenica, Aminess hotels Novigrad, Istraturist hotels Umag, and other private hotels in Istria and throughout Croatia.
Is there an interest in implementing a process to a greater extent?
Our focus now is export. In addition to the current product range, we plan to develop a face line. It all depends on developing the exportation in foreign countries. We are getting a lot of interest from abroad, and we believe in future success.