The kiwi season has been a bit rough in Greece. With a record crop last year, Greece is hoping to expand and build on what it’s accomplished. Instead of the 220,000 tons of kiwis that were cultivated last year, this year the number will be stuck on 160,000 tons.
The kiwi season in Greece isn’t going as well as one might have hoped for. Although the situation is not as dire as that may sound, there has been a drop in production and sales, says George Kallitsis, export director for Proto. “It has been a strange season so far, with Italy also being slower in sales. Greece had a record crop last year, and due to rainy, windy and cold weather the crops have dropped by about 60,000 tons this year. The prices are lower and we’re not selling a lot more, even with a price that’s 30 cents lower than it was last year.”
There was also a competitor making life hard for Greek kiwi exporters: “An issue was the fact that Zespri had availability until December, they would normally stop supplying around October. This got in the way of Greek kiwis,” says Kallitsis. “For Proto not much has changed though, as we’ve sold a similar amount of produce compared to last year. We’re even sold out of all small sizes. It’s because of these signs that we’re still optimistic for the rest of the season. We expect sales to pick up by a good amount from mid-February, as our quality is still good and we have no major issues with the kiwis.”
Mid-February is about the time Fruit Logistica has come to an end, which is no coincidence. “Fruit Logistica is always a place to attract new customers. There are a lot of exhibitors though, so attaining new clients is not as easy as it might sound. But even over the last few days we’ve had contact with potential new customers, who will visit us in Berlin.” Kallitsis explains.
The future is bright for Proto though, as there are a lot of plans, even when not concerning kiwis: “The biggest aim to is keep supplying a large volume of kiwis. But we also have the upcoming cherry season to think about, which are also getting quite big for Proto. And then there’s the grape season, which will hopefully also get a good start,” Kallitsis says. “Other goals are penetrating the Scandinavian market, which we’ve been trying for a while. So far it hasn’t been too successful, but we’re not giving up yet. We’re trying to supply our produce directly to the supermarkets, hopefully the Polish and United States market will also be viable options in terms of supermarkets.”
Other markets can be interesting, but exporting to China has proven difficult. “We’ve only managed to export 15 containers to China. Other markets are Indonesia, Malaysia, India and Hong Kong. Volumes to these regions have been a bit lower, but we’re still satisfied with how our produce is doing over there. Having a foothold is important, as it is expected that Greece production will increase the next few years. Normally production should reach about 300,000 tons by 2021, but it remains to be seen how important Italy will be at that point.
Proto is an exhibitor at Fruit Logistica 2019 in Berlin. You can find them in Hall 2.1, stand D-01.