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Greece: Organic pomegranate demand rising every year

Goustera SA 2010, one of the top producers of organic pomegranate in Kavala, Greece, has seen an increase in demand for both conventional and organic. According to its Executive Chairman Dmitris Loutsigkas, "Pomegranate is more popular now. Five to six years ago the fruit was considered exotic, found only in specialty stores and known mostly in countries such as Turkey and Iran. Pomegranate has become more popular after studies have shown its health benefits. The fruit is typically used in a salad or made into a juice. Pomegranate’s popularity keeps growing."

The company grows two varieties, Akko in September and Wonderful from October to February, with most of its cultivation happening in the North East of Greece in areas like Drama.

Goustera supplies conventional pomegranate to countries such as Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, the local market and other countries in Europe. This represents 70% of its produce. The other 30% of the produce is organic, all of which are for export to countries such as Germany and the Netherlands. Although organic produce means more work, more expenses, less harvest, and smaller demand, it also means a bigger price tag compared to its conventional counterpart. 

“The difference in cost between producing organic and conventional pomegranates is not that big. The organic market is growing in places such as Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy and Scandinavia. Goustera usually works with importers and partners in these countries to penetrate small organic shops and chains, which typically serve customers who are 100% organic."

The organic market is a growing market but it is still considered a niche market. Dmitris says, “Buyers were much more tolerant to the appearance of the pomegranate before. Currently, they are more sensitive to the fruit’s color and appearance. But for a person who really consumes organic produce, the color shouldn’t be as important, because the fruit still provides the same health benefits.”  

To assure that Goustera produces high quality, it works closely with the local farmers and cooperatives. Farmers are regularly visited and fruits are regularly analyzed to make sure that certain standards are met. For the pomegranates that do not meet the company standards, they are given to the cooperative or farmers, who use the fruit to make juice or other by-products of pomegranate. 

There is a lot of competition in the industry, specifically from countries such as Iran, Azerbaijan, Tunisia and India. These countries have an advantage because they have more experience in growing the fruit and labor is cheaper in their respective countries. Despite this, Dmitris believes that Greek organic pomegranates are competitive because of the following reasons: no chemicals are used, higher standards are followed, and careful analysis of the produce is always done and most importantly, Greece is a member of the EU, giving it a logistical and an economic advantage when it comes to penetrating European countries.

With regards the next season, "A lot can happen during the next harvest. We are targeting higher sales figures but the real limitation lies in our storage capacity. The facilities used for pomegranates are shared by other fruits like kiwis. Greek production will stabilize. Producers of conventional pomegranate will make more organic. The numbers will increase because there are a lot more opportunities for growing the fruit and potential markets that could be tapped.”

For more information:

Dmitirs Loutsigkas
Goustera S.A (Greece)
Tel: 0030-2510-361-363
Email: info@goustera.com

Author: Lawin Ileto / Yzza Ibrahim

Publication date: 6/2/2017
Author: Yzza Ibrahim
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


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