“Small Greek companies benefit from these programs. I think it’s very important that smaller growers and cooperatives are able to promote their produce in other countries. This turned out to be especially important during the Greek financial crisis. During that period, more companies emerged with a focus on export.”
In the last couple of years, new regulations with changed criteria have been adopted by the EU. This started in 2014, with the regulations being fully applied in 2015. The main difference is that private companies aren’t allowed to apply for these programs any more. “In order to apply, private companies need to form bigger coalitions, as the EU has shifted its focus to larger schemes.”
When asked if this was a good decision for the EU programs, Anta mentions it’s a tricky question. “There are a lot of good elements within these regulations. There are a lot of singular procedures, which provide a clear focus from the EU. This makes it easier for companies to comply to these procedures. There are also a lot of other small details that are important for Greek growers. The downside however, is quite obvious. If you’re a private company, you’re no longer eligible to participate in the programs. You’re forced to cooperate with colleagues or competitors in order to apply.”
Italian kiwi producers benefit from the same EU programs as Greek companies. According to Anta, this leads to a tricky situation. “The funds for these programs come from three different sources, with every source being preoccupied with its own interests. However, all participating organizations have taken a step back for the greater good. They all realize that they have a lot to gain from a unified plan. Our objective has always been the benefit of the EU, providing quality and safety regulations for EU produce. We don’t want to create confusion between participating companies and countries,” explains Anta.
Through these programs, the export of Greek kiwis has increased. “There is going to be much demand from India and China. Single companies can’t keep up with this demand, so they need to work with other companies anyway. This gives us a win/win situation."
Anta emphasizes that a unified marketing scheme for kiwis doesn’t leave room for brands based on individual countries. “In foreign markets, Europe is seen as a singular entity. Our exported produce isn’t seen as Italian kiwis or Greek kiwis, but rather as European kiwis. In this sense, we avoid competition. Instead of referring to Greek kiwis, we rather call it European kiwis.”
WIN doesn’t directly have partners in Italy, but if possible the company does try to work with synergy between Italian and Greek organizations. “It’s good to let the participating companies be complementary to each other, but we can’t always guarantee this. However, as a whole it would be good to be grouped together as a EU initiative when exporting to Canada, China or other markets.”
Current export markets
The last promotion activities for the UAE that involved WIN were back in November to January. The company is now working on the second wave of promotion activities, that are being held from September up to December, with a main focus on Dubai. According to Anta, there weren’t any setbacks due to the crisis with regards to Qatar. “This region is a challenging market. Consumers in Dubai maintain high criteria for their produce, but also tend to focus on price. It is however a very promising market. Apart from Dubai, we’re expanding to Abu Dhabi. We see lots of potential, so we’d like to create a structure for promotional activities. It will be interesting to see how the Qatar crisis is going to work out.”
Canada is a difficult market because of its size. In order to successfully export to the Canadian market, you need the right channels to big retailers. “We used to have less contacts with the bigger companies, but last year went more smoothly due to easier access to supermarkets. For the Canadian market, we are aiming for two objectives. We want to educate consumers about Greek produce like kiwis and we want to improve our export volumes. For the first objective, it is important to find the right media channels, like magazines and social media.”
WIN is also involved with programs in Hong Kong, though the main export market is mainland China. “We’ve been having campaigns in Shanghai and Hong Kong and we’re going to expand to other cities as well. Hong Kong is a unique region, that doesn’t represent the rest of China. It is a very sophisticated market with lots of high end consumers. These consumers are looking for fruit of the best quality. Fruit is being used as gifts. This gives us an advantage, as it allows us to promote expensive fruit of the highest quality,” says Anta in conclusion.
For more information:
WIN Development Consultants (Greece)
Author: Peter Duivenvoorde / Yzza Ibrahim