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Sophoclis Michaelides, Bio-Ilios Ltd, on the current season:

"Cold snap has slightly affected the Greek organic citrus campaign"

The marketing of Greek citrus has started particularly well this year. "Nevertheless, the recent cold spell with snow and temperatures as low as -10 degrees Celsius has had a noticeable impact on citrus production, which is why we have to reckon with smaller quantities and an early end to the season," says Sophoclis Michaelides, managing director of the specialized import company Bio-Ilios Ltd, based in Tübingen.

Greek citrus production

The last Valencia oranges from Greek organic production are expected to hit the market in about a month. "We are already through with Minneolas, and Nova variety clementines are also rapidly running out. Greek organic lemons, on the other hand, will be offered into April," Michaelides reports.

Competition in the organic sector is particularly fierce in the lemon market, the direct importer adds. "Fortunately, we were able to keep up with Italy in terms of prices this year, which is why we can look back on a satisfactory lemon campaign overall. It's worth mentioning here that, especially for organic lemons, there is a lot of negotiating going on in the Greek domestic market."

Similar to many other commodity categories, prices for organic citrus have already been relatively high throughout the season, Michaelides continues. "In general, prices are clearly higher than last year's levels. "It is a matter close to our hearts that, at the end of the day, the grower gets a fair price for their product, especially since production costs for small farms in Greece are relatively high compared to competitor countries Spain and Italy. We've managed that well in the season so far."

Organic kiwifruit on the rise
In parallel with organic citrus, organic kiwifruit is shaping current market activity. Michaelides says, "Our organic kiwifruit are harvested from October/November and then placed in CA storage, after which they can be marketed into May, depending on the growing area. Sales this year are rather sluggish compared to last year with correspondingly high prices. In fact, from my point of view, it would not be out of the question for certain cooperatives to sit on their produce."

Regardless of the current Corona problem, there have been ongoing price premiums in recent years, Michaelides describes. "Quotations for European and New Zealand commodities are now about even. In general, I believe the kiwi is about at its price limit." In the longer term, Greek organic kiwi is on an upward trend, according to Michaelides. "Italy has lost market share in both conventional and organic kiwifruit due to high fungal infestation in the major growing areas. Until January, mainly the Tsechelidis variety of kiwifruit is marketed; in the second half of the season, the internationally known Hayward should dominate the market."

Organic fruit on the rise
All in all, the organic fruit industry has the wind at its back, Michaelides claims. "Organic produce has been more in the consumer's focus since the Corona outbreak, and we obviously noticed that, especially in the first Corona year. In general, however, there is also a social trend toward healthy eating, which in turn has a positive effect on the marketing of organic fruit. In addition to our main sales market, the nationwide natural food specialist trade, we have also been able to place correspondingly more goods in food retailing. However, our main concern is still to supply the natural food specialist trade and to increase sales in the existing sales channel where possible."

Images: Bio-Ilios Ltd.

For more information:
Sophoclis Michaelides
Bio-Ilios GmbH
Lustnauer Kirchplatz 6
72074 Tübingen
Tel:   +49 7071 407 85 1 -17
Fax:  +49 7071 407 85 1 -20  

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