This year’s kiwi season in Greece is unlike any other. According to Christina Manossis of Zeus Kiwi in Greece, “There’s no information about the harvest of kiwi fruit. Unfortunately this year we’ve had some incidents. Some growers harvested kiwi earlier than expected, due to the speculated high price of the fruit.”
Manossis reports: “The prices of kiwi at the field is between .60 to as high as .80 per kilogram, which is a price we have never had before and is considered extremely high. With such lofty prices, farmers are pressured into harvesting kiwis earlier than the official date given by the Greek government which is October 15th.”
The Greek Minsitry of Agriculture has stepped in to put a stop on the premature harvesting of kiwi with low brix levels. Brix levels are not yet expected to rise to the optimum amount. “The government caught some farmers harvesting the kiwis earlier. The government destroyed these premature fruits because they deemed the act illegal. Because of the focus of the Ministry of Agriculture on this issue I believe that the recurrence of premature harvesting is highly unlikely," Manossis adds.
The current global demand for kiwi is as high as it has been since June from last season. “The demand is still there and, even though the season is not yet finished, we have already started talking about the next season. The Asian market is very interesting this year, and not just for China, because other small countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan – which we haven’t started to sell in – and Vietnam, are also requesting kiwis.”
Manossis added, “The surge in demand from the Asian market coupled with the slowdown of kiwi production in Italy may bring a kiwi shortage in the market. Although Italy is a strong grower and producer of kiwi, with about 30% of the fruit in the market, Greece will not be able to cover the demand just yet. Before proceeding to anything, it should first be made sure that requirements and price expectations are met. However, this is nothing short of a good time for Zeus Kiwi to enter the market and capture some of the market share.”
Antonis Ioannidis with General Manager Christina Manossis
Although good demand can be expected in the future, Manossis also says that pricing may be challenging this season. “I’m expecting a very high demand, but on the other hand, I’m not so sure if the market is going to accept such high prices. This is due to the superior quality of kiwis supplied by Zeus Kiwi. Prices must be kept reasonable yet competitive enough to stay relevant in the market.” Prices must be good and not much lower than Italy.
“Similarly, the Indian market – a low return market despite high demand for kiwi - will not be a key market, but will instead be an alternative one. In fact, there will soon be a second brand under Zeus Kiwi that will be focusing on second-class kiwi. This subsidiary brand will concentrate on suitable markets for second-class kiwi such as Romania. This year, there is an expected 6,000-ton production of a 700-ton increase from last year’s 5,300 tons.”
At the moment, Zeus Kiwi is in the process of altering the calibration, sorting, and storage system. “There will be a shift from the use of small crates with a 20-kilogram capacity to larger bins that are more popularly used in Italy than in Greece. This shift is key to increasing storage capacity while lowering logistics costs. As a three-year investment, the transition is expected to take full effect by 2019.”
The future looks very optimistic for Zeus Kiwi. “It is interesting this year. New varieties of kiwis such as gold and green are also being developed. Plots of the new kiwi varieties have been planted, and may be patented after adequate trial. The work still needs to be done, it could take three up to six years of development before the new varieties are produced on a commercial basis.”
“It’s a very strange – it’s not an ordinary season this time for European kiwis. But there is a good opportunity for us to expand to new markets because kiwis are missing from the market. And so the traditional market that Italians have been dominating can give an opportunity for Zeus to enter the market.”, Manossis concludes. This situation makes it a favorable occasion for Zeus’s widespread market expansion, its transition into a parent company, as well as for the exciting development of new kiwi varieties.
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