Demand for butternut squash has grown steadily in Greece over the last several years. With winter on its way, and cold weather spurring greater sales, that demand could continue to increase into 2015.

“In recent years we have seen a growth in domestic consumption,” said Lior Touron of Trikala Farms. “The response of the public to our fresh-cut butternut squash is very satisfactory, with a steady annual growth of about 15 percent.”

Trikala grows its produce on its farm in the heart of the fertile Thessaly Valley, which offers good yields and gives employment to residents of the area while helping the local economy. Its vertically-integrated business structure means Trikala is in charge of growing, processing and selling their produce, whether it's raw or processed. It began selling its line of fresh-cut products in 2004 through a partnership with Alpha-Beta of Delhaize group, and it's been exporting its wares since 2005.

While the demand for its fresh-cut butternut squash has been growing domestically, Touron noted that Trikala has had some challenges penetrating the European market. Trikala packages its products in a sealed punnet that has a seven-day shelf life, so long shipping times limit the places to which the products can be shipped. Touron explained that the short shelf life imposed on the product is a challenge, but it's one that can be overcome.

“The main challenge is delivering the product within a short time frame to the point of sale, and this is why we try to deliver the fresh-cut products to the customers' distribution centres as soon as they are produced,” said Touron. “We also encourage customers that do not want to use the fresh-cut butternut squash within the time given to keep the punnet in the freezer where it can be stored for a long time without a significant effect on the product.” Another option is to ship the raw products to processing facilities inside the target country where the products can be quickly processed and distributed within the product's shelf life. For this reason, Touron said he's always looking for partners abroad who can work with them to process and distribute products.

As the only provider of fresh-cut butternut squash in Greece, domestic business has been good. Trikala sells about 3,000 punnets per week on the local market, and Touron believes that figure will increase because consumers like to use the raw product in pies, soups and salads. They also appreciate the convenience of the fresh-cut product.

“The 500-gram fresh-cut punnets are easy to use and give value to the customer, who knows exactly how much he's buying and how much time is saved on peeling and cutting,” said Touron. “The convenience approach is stronger in Europe and the United States than in Greece, though we are looking to create extra value for the consumer with fresh-cut butternut squash.”

For more information:
Lior Touron
Trikala Farms Ltd.
Tel: +972 52 7502 927
Skype: lior.touron
Author: Yzza Ibrahim / Carlos Nunez