Greek sector focuses on Eastern Europe

In the European top 3 of the largest production countries for kiwis, peaches and nectarines, oranges, mandarins and watermelons for example, Greece has a firm place. This makes the country an important production area. A large proportion of the fruit that is grown is exported, but in large parts of Western Europe the focus primarily seems to be on import from Spain. Where are the Greek kiwis, oranges and watermelons going?

The short answer to this question is: Eastern Europe. Looking at the export figures, it is clear that the largest buyers are in the east of the continent. Last year (2017) the Navels led the list of fruit export. This was also the first year that TradeMap presented specific data on Navels. In total the Greek exported 210,341 tonnes of Navels. Most of those went to Romania (39,651 tonnes). Then follow countries in the east of Europe: Serbia (21,349 tonnes), Poland (18,329 tonnes), Hungary (17,625 tonnes) and Bulgaria (16,958 tonnes). Germany is in sixth place, worth 14,841 tonnes, the first Western European country on the list. The Netherlands (962 tonnes) is just below halfway down at 20th position.

The focus on these Eastern European markets is practical. Geographically these countries are closer. Another factor is the relatively small volume that the Greek export. Competition with Spain or Italy is difficult, admit the exporters, although they are convinced of the superiority of the Greek citrus. What doesn't help is that the cultivation is spread out over a large number of small growers. This means that a lot of growers are lacking the capital to invest in new varieties.

The situation is different for the grapes. The focus for them is more on the west of the continent. Of the total export of 89,453 tonnes almost half (35,737 tonnes) is intended for the German market. The top three is completed by the United Kingdom (15,220 tonnes) and the Netherlands (7,913 tonnes). Although the grape growers also tend to have a small area, the grape market pays more and there is more space for investments. The focus here is on the seedless varieties and growers aim for a harvest time late in the season, when Spain and Italy are almost off of the market and the overseas season hasn't started yet.

The Greek focus on the countries around them can also be seen in the rankings for other products. Romania, Bulgaria and the Ukraine are the largest markets for peaches. The total export was 115,670 tonnes of peaches, of which 22,907 tonnes for the largest buyer Romania. The rest of Eastern Europe and the Balkans are also in the top destinations. The picture for nectarine export is comparable to that of the peaches, although the volumes are smaller. The total export was 70,473 tonnes. 

Watermelons show a slightly different image. The Greeks exported 28,321 tonnes to Germany, making it the largest destination. The total export is 170,472 tonnes. The second place is for Italy (27,527 tonnes) and the United Kingdom is also in the top 10. The Netherlands (5,284 tonnes) is just outside of the top at 11th place. Italy, Spain and Germany are the largest sales markets for kiwis. These countries together are worth slightly less than half of the total kiwi export. Greece exported 129,527 tonnes in 2017.


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