A stalwart sector for Greek exports, the food and agriculture industry will receive funding to carry out a sector-wide modernization plan
Greece’s food and agriculture sector is poised to undergo massive modernization efforts. “We’re going to have a huge transformation of the agricultural sector – the shift to more high-tech, intelligent and greener agriculture,” says Makis Voridis, Greek Minister of Agricultural Development and Food.
With new EU-backed funding, new machinery is to be purchased to improve export earnings in wealthy European markets such as Germany. Such investment would boost the economic contribution of the sector, which has long been one of the country’s major export sectors. Indeed, products such as olive oil, olives, fruits, vegetables, cheeses, yogurts and wines form the backbone of 1,200 Greek enterprises, which generated a turnover of €14.2 billion last year.
Many food and agriculture companies are now taking up their own plans to become more efficient. MEVGAL, the largest milk producer in Northern Greece, is “investing €10 million to expand facilities and further automate production processes,” explains the company’s President and Managing Director Mary Chatzakou. “Today, our products can be found on the shelves of the largest retailers in more than 30 countries, while exports comprise approximately 35% of our total turnover,” says Chatzakou, adding that the company has a significant market share in the Greek yogurt segments in Germany, Austria, Norway and Italy.
Forming the basis of the sector’s allure is its raw materials, which continue to make the market popular with international brands. “Greece is known for its high-quality tobacco leaves and crops. They are well-known varieties, and we have been purchasing them for over 40 years,” says Victor Crespo, Managing Director at Japan Tobacco International. “At our recent meeting with the Greek minister of agriculture, we pledged to keep buying tobacco leaves in the country.”
According to Minister Voridis, the food industry holds significant untapped advantages for foreign investors. “There is currently a tax of 25% on olives and olive oil entering the US market from Spain and Italy, but not from Greece,” he notes. “That gives a huge competitive advantage to the Greek olive oil in the US market.”