It is important to emphasize that when Serbia starts with domestic season, import activities for all the products available on domestic market are brought to an end. The goal is to support local production and local suppliers. When the domestic season finishes, imports of fresh fruit and vegetables will start again.
“We’ve been importing Greek strawberries from December until May. Right now, we’re sourcing watermelons from Greece, which will continue through this month. We’ve also been importing Greek oranges, nectarines, kiwis and peaches. Since the beginning of March we’ve also been getting young potatoes from Greece as well,” says Igor Damjanovic of Delhaize Serbia.
“We’ve been having great experiences with Greek produce, which is similar in quality to our own domestic production. Greece has a long standing tradition in producing strawberries and watermelons, so this guarantees excellent quality and prices. The transport costs are lower as well, when compared with import from Spain. However, the main reason for sourcing from Greece has to do with quality and price."
According to Damjanovic, Greek produce is cheaper than Spanish produce, even if the logistic costs are taking out of the equation. If Greek produce is in season, Greek growers become favored suppliers for Delhaize Serbia by default. Serbian consumers are well aware of the importance of Greece as a supplying country. “When consumers are told that the current range for strawberries and watermelons isn’t produced locally, they immediately assume it’s from Greece,” says Damjanovic. However, there are exceptions to this rule, as the same can’t be said for other fruit categories, like oranges.
Serbian consumers prefer big strawberries with a good scent. “If strawberries lack any scent, they appear to us as if they’re made of plastic. As for watermelons, customers prefer smaller calibres as they’re less expensive. Serbian consumers are somewhat price sensitive.”
Delhaize Serbia supports local suppliers
Delhaize Serbia doesn’t have any problems with finding Greek traders and growers. “We’ve got very clear specifications with regards to each product, so suppliers know what is expected from them. They also need to be in possession of GlobalGAP certificates.”
Damjanovic has been sourcing Greek produce for Delhaize Serbia for about four years now. Throughout these years, the range of fruits and vegetables has remained the same. The import volume however has changed in scale. “We’re importing much more strawberries than we did five years ago. This also goes for peaches and nectarines. The amount has risen approximately by 20%, with chances of increasing even more.
Another reason for the success of Greek fruits and vegetables has to do with tourism. “Serbians love to go to Greece in the summer. They’ve become familiar with Greek products. They feel nostalgic when they’re able to find these Greek products in Serbian supermarkets."
More promotion for produce
Currently, Delhaize Serbia employs three retail brands in a way that is similar to Delhaize in Belgium. These brands are Maxi supermarkets, Shop & Go convenience stores and Tempo hypermarkets.
From 2013 onwards, Delhaize Serbia has been placing a larger emphasis on fruits and vegetables. “When you enter our stores, the first thing you come across is our fresh produce department. We’ve been doing new kinds of promotions since last year. For instance, we organise events like a Day of Potatoes, or a Day of Watermelons, during which customers can win prizes when they buy the product that is being promoted. Apart from marketing, a major reason for us to do this is to educate the consumer in the use and the health benefits of fresh produce. We want to promote new varieties, but we also want to differentiate ourselves from our competitors.”
For more inforamtion:
Tel: 00 381 11 7153473
Mob: 00 381 64 8122301