The cherries in Greece are heading towards a promising season for cherry packer Yaka IKE. Demand is rising all over the world and those supplying the supermarkets are less impacted by the closures of hotels and restaurants all over Europe. Naturally measures have been taken in the packhouse, like the use of thermal camera systems that monitor the health of the employees.
As in the rest of Europe, Greece has had to deal with the effects of the coronavirus. Although some sectors are struggling, the cherry exporters dealing with supermarkets directly are looking forward to a satisfying season: “The 2020 cherry season looks promising for Greece for those that have fully certified packhouses and supply to the supermarkets directly. The fruit market sales seem to do worse, as the restaurants and hotels in Greece are closed and tourism is looking quite bearish right now. In turn, consumers prefer buying from reliable supermarket chains with high standards in handling and packaging. We expect to pack 25 per cent more cherries than we did last year. Our target is to reach 1500mt this season,” Levent Sadik Ahmet, CEO of cherry packer Yaka, explains.
The company has shown its clients how the company is putting in extra measures for safety, and demand has risen from all over Europe, Sadik Ahmet states. “At Yaka we still have very good demand, because our clients feel very comfortable by buying from us due to our strict hygiene measures. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, consumers have been looking for fresh produce that boosts the immune system. This will lead to an increase in cherry demand all over the world. I believe we will provide our grown cherries to the leading supermarkets in Europe, especially in Germany, Netherlands and UK.”
Sadik Ahmet believes Greece acted early enough to get out of the troublesome situation in the near future: “Greece is controlling the COVID-19 quite well so far. Greece started to take precautions at an early stage of the virus and people in Greece are also highly conscious about the situation. Therefore, we believe it will be totally controlled and solved in the near future. As Yaka, we’ve implemented
several measures in our packhouse to ensure safety for both our workers and the food we’re handling.”
“Before the season starts the entire facility is being disinfected, all staff undergoes medical screening and all employees attend a Food Safety and a First Aid seminar. In the packhouse itself, we’re now beginning to apply thermal camera systems. This way body temperature can be measured and health status can be monitored. Naturally everyone uses sterilized protection in the form of gloves, face masks and protective clothing. We sanitize all areas of the facility on a daily basis to avoid contamination.” Sadik Ahmet says.
In the situation the world finds itself in, transporting the produce is not an easy task. Transport is expensive enough as it is, especially when it comes to air freight: “Transport rates will be about 25 per cent higher than we’re used to. The cost of trucks is higher due to lack of trade, as not everyone is doing so well and some industries are even locked down completely. So in order to transport foods, we have to select the best transport companies that take extra measures. The biggest issues are with air freight, as there are only a limited amount of flights available and costs are through the roof.” Sadik Ahmet concludes.