In Greece, the new potato season is about to kick off. Last season was one of struggles, but one exporter managed to get ahead. Looking at the current season, it’s expected there will be a few challenges to deal with, but that the season of 2021 will be better overall when compared to the 2020 season.
According to Dimitris Koutsogiannopoulos, import, export and sales manager for Greek Fruits, last season wasn’t as bad for them as it was in general for Greece: “The new potatoes season is starting any moment. The new crop offers a fresh look with pilling skin, that makes it ideal for export in the foreign markets. The season starts around this week and lasts up until mid-June. Even though 2020 had a 29% decrease compared to 2019 in Greece overall, as a company managed to increase our export volumes by 12%. For the 2021 season, we aim to reach the same target as last year, and maybe even surpass it. Our main territories we export to are Poland and Romania, but we also export to the Slovak Republic, Czech Republic and Ukraine.”
Due to weather complications, the new season could start off a little bit slower than normal, Koutsogiannopoulos explains. “The weather has been fine lately, but we had some really bad issues in terms of cold weather at the start of the planting season. This cold weather either damaged already planned potatoes or forced growers to postpone their planting altogether. This means the season started off with a major step back. I expect the first potatoes to be fine, but there’s be less production per acre and some of the potatoes will come a bit late.”
The fact that Fruit Logistica 2021 has been canceled carries a lot of weight for the Greek company. Koutsogiannopoulos states that meeting with clients in person is invaluable: “As a company we have a good presence in local and foreign exhibitions. The biggest one in Greece is Freskon. In foreign exhibitions we have participated both as exhibitors or visitors mostly in Fruit Attraction and of course the biggest event in Europe, Fruit Logistica. As for 2021 we are deeply saddened that the current situation around the world prevents us from attending any of the exhibitions. We joined the online version of Fruit Attraction, not with great success though, personal presence really does make a difference. We’re investing more time in articles to local and foreign media, either online or more traditional ways. We also have a dedicated team contacting existing partners strengthening our bonds of cooperation and trust, as well as creating a list of potential partners.”
Although 2020 was pestered by a lot of logistical issues due to the pandemic, Koutsogiannopoulos believes this year will not have as many problems when it comes to transport. “Last year was a very difficult year, with the coronavirus in mind. After a year, the world seems to have adapted a bit. Therefore, we don’t expect any logistical issues due to border closes this year, export should go a lot smoother compared to last season. However it’s been very clear that with the catering businesses being forced to close, the volume that these businesses would normally buy can’t be covered by consumers cooking at home. This means we’ll still have stocks left from last year, even with the spring season kicking off.”
“To conclude, I would like to give an honorable mention to our producers, who despite all the hardships, are there in the front line, supporting us and making it possible for us to manage their products. It is essential to give all the support we can give them, because they are the first link in the food production chain and without them none of all those fresh products we enjoy would be available.” Koutsogiannopoulos concludes.