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Rigidity in premium segment affects Greek fruit exports

"Businesses are at stake, especially in the watermelon and grape sectors"

The Greek grape season is now slowly but surely starting to get underway. The first goods from Crete have already been traded since the beginning of the month, and currently the first batches from Corinth are also arriving on the German market, as a specialized trading agency informs us. Due to the current adversities, the Greek fruit sector has suffered some big losses this year. The longer-term forecasts are rather negative as well.

Due to ubiquitous cost increases, the Greek export industry is looking back on a difficult campaign so far. "Greek watermelons were simply not competitive this year. We offered our produce at 0.72 euros/kg wholesale, while Moroccan produce was on sale at 0.55-0.58 euros/kg," says the Greece specialist. He added that this difficult starting point also had an impact on transshipment volumes. "In a normal season we procure a good 200 trucks, this year we were at a total of 24 trucks."

The initial signs for grapes were also rather bleak, the report continues. "Greek table grapes are generally in the higher-priced segment and thus go mainly to specialty retailers and less to food retailers. Especially in this premium segment, a state of shock is emerging at the moment."

It's not just the increases in costs and inflationary effects. Extreme weather patterns with persistent drought are also having a noticeable impact on the agricultural sector. "Livelihoods are at stake, especially in the watermelon and grape sectors. Last year, which was relatively normal, certain growers already shut down operations and that will be the case again this year."

In the German market, he said, many once-popular fruit and vegetable products from Greece have now become marginal. "We were able to sell Greek oranges throughout Germany in the 1980s and 1990s. The same was true for asparagus in bunches and Greek stone fruits. All these products, unfortunately, are no longer traded in the style they used to be. In the case of grapes, there has been a shift in recent years from the tried-and-tested varieties to new varieties such as Arra, Sugar One, Superior and many more. Whether consumers will actually embrace these innovations will take a few years to crystallize."

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