Pomegranates bring good luck, wealth and health in Greece

After reports started to surface a few years ago about the health benefits of pomegranates, the President of Agricultural cooperative Afroditi, Giorgos Mpitsaras', said his curiosity was piqued and he decided to test the water by cultivating the exotic fruits himself and see how well they would grow in Greek soil. Once others saw how well it was going, small producers became interested as well and Afroditi was founded in 2014, as a cooperation to support and teach growers, who are all Global Gap and ISO certified.

"It's still a newer product for us here in Greece, so we are still in the learning process, and we are getting better year on year. It is very important to us to make sure that the product we are providing is of the highest quality, so as the company's agronomist, I am there to assist our growers through the entire process. I personally make sure that all growers are on time with irrigation, spraying and giving nutrients. This is extremely important because if growers do not follow the steps correctly, we are in for a nasty surprise once the fruits are in the cooling stage, since fungus is not visible when we would buy the fruits and only shows up a month or so down the line," shared Roza Katsibali, agronomist and export manager for Afroditi.

The cooperation grows two pomegranate varieties, the Ako which is an early variety starting at the end of August through the end of September, and the well-known Wonderful variety, which typically begins in early October and runs for one month. Once in the cooling stage, the Wonderful pomegranates can be stored up until the end of February/early March. Production is expected to reach around 1000 tons this year.

"Freskon helps us learn about new markets and gives us the opportunity to speak to customers directly about what they are looking for in terms of sizing. For example, surrounding countries, such as Lithuania, Ukraine, Romania and Bulgaria are looking for smaller sizes, whereas countries like Dubai, the Netherlands, France and Germany are looking for larger sizes. We are already in all of the major supermarkets in Greece and do some export to Germany, but we are definitely interested in expanding our production and entering new markets in the future," Roza explains.

Roza said that the cooperation would like to compete with other producing countries such as Turkey, Spain and Peru and she feels that they have added value that these countries don't always have, "I always say that if you want good quality, you have to pay. Although Turkey may have large quantities, with low prices, I believe that they can't compete with our quality, largely due to the quality control we perform with all of our growers. Their production is so big, I think that it would be impossible for them to have such a hands on approach.

Afroditi, has special individual packaging for their pomegranates throughout the year, along with a special gift packaging for the Christmas season, called Pomeros. The special box has a star shaped window where you can see the fruit inside, and there is a special spot on the side where the gift giver can write a personal message.

"Although pomegranates are a somewhat new fruit for the Greek market, we have been really excited to see that, year on year, our special Christmas packaging is becoming a gift giving tradition. The Pomeros are seen in Greece as a token of good luck, wealth and health," Roza concludes.

For more information:
Roza Katsibali
Tel: +30 6949 208 996
Email: info@afroditisyn.com

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