Saturday October 25, 2014 Search
Weather | Athens
19o C
12o C
News
Business
Comment
Life
Sports
Community
Survival Guide
Greek Edition
Sunny Greece spent 11.7 mln euros on fresh tomato imports in 2011

In 2011, Greece paid 11.7 million euros to import 15,550 tons of fresh tomatoes from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Germany, Italy and the Benelux countries. Greeks did just as everyone in Northern Europe does, which is eat foreign tomatoes. But the difference here is that we have the perfect climate and every opportunity to grow our own tomatoes. And the price of Greek tomatoes is the same as that of imports. So why import? But then again, why not?

The Dutch tomato-grower, for example, has modernized production, limited costs, ensured a standard quality and, most importantly, has a significant volume of production. This allows him to bring down the price he sells at to the same level as the Greek farmer, but of course his profit margin is much greater given his lower production cost.

In Greece, the market is total chaos. In Crete, for example, farmers in cooperatives hand over their tomatoes for auction without receiving a receipt, so they have no idea at what price they will be sold. The cooperative, which sets no floor or ceiling to the price, then sells the tomatoes on at whatever price it deems acceptable to whomever is interested in paying, and the farmer gets a cut.

As far as prices are concerned, according to Aristotelis Panteliadis, CEO of the Metro cash-and-carry chain, imported tomatoes are no cheaper on average than domestic varieties when bought in bulk. But, he explains, the cost for the foreign producer is much lower, giving them a higher profit margin.

According to Constantinos Akoumianakis, an assistant professor at the Agricultural University of Athens, “foreign farmers have huge greenhouses and hydroponic production methods. This is precision farming that covers all the plants’ needs, while at the same time conserving water, nutrients and, of course, money.”

On the other hand, most local farmers use old-fashioned methods and are hesitant to try new varieties for which there is a demand in the market.

The combination of these factors means that in 2011, Greece spent 11.7 million euros on imported tomatoes. It was, however, the first year in many that the country also succeeded in making some exports: 14,470 tons worth just 6.2 million euros -- a low price. In 2010, Greece imported 17,088 tons of fresh tomatoes, paying 16.5 million euros, and exported just 7,373 tons, making 3.9 million euros. In 2009, Greece exported just 2,708 tons of tomatoes (1.3 million euros’ worth), a year when the Netherlands came second in the global export rankings for tomatoes and reaped 1.1 billion euros from the sale of 965,000 tons.


Efforts for change


Awareness of the factors contributing to low output and sales has led a handful of Greek farmers to change the way they think about what they do and, by extension, to change the way they do it.

On the island of Paros, Christos Lazanakis started a hydroponic greenhouse in 2008 where plants do not grow in the earth but in a layer of pumice stone, hoping to boost production while lowering his operational costs.

“You need to follow a very specific fertilization and watering regime for each crop,” explained the greenhouse owner.

Wonderplant is also moving along high-technology lines, with a hydroponic unit of 120,00 square meters in Drama, northern Greece, which is expected to produce 7,000 tons of tomatoes throughout the year.

The managing director of Wonderplant, Themis Makris, told Kathimerini that the technology being used may be Dutch, but the environment in which the company is trying to do business remains very much Greek.

“We use natural gas and pay 60 euros a megawatt -- as much as household consumers do -- while Dutch farmers pay exactly half that,” he said, citing one example of the obstacles the company faces.


Read also: Why does Greece import so much food?

ekathimerini.com , Wednesday March 14, 2012 (20:52)  
Rackets corner souvenir market at the foot of the Acropolis
Local businesses come together to raise Zagorochorias profile
After 20 years of cutting waste, feeding the needy, food bank keeps up good work during crisis
Gazi: One Athenian district that seems to be riding out the storm
TRAVEL
Galaxidi: Silent eloquence
When you arrive at Galaxidi the first thing that strikes you is the quiet. The road into the picturesque coastal village at the foot of Mount Parnassus leads you to Nikolaos Mamas Square n...
Acropolis Museum to put the daily lives of the ancients on display
Until now, visitors to the Acropolis Museum in Athens could only peer through the glass floors of the Bernard Tschumi-designed structure to get an idea of the ancient neighborhood lying amon...
Inside Life
Inside Travel
Inside Gastronomy
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
RECENT NEWS
1. A win is a win is a win for Olympiakos
2. TAIPED waits for green light from Eurostat
3. Trade deficit shrinks on big drop in imports
4. SMEs unable to claim subsidies
5. Taxes kept growing in second quarter
6. Thessaloniki Port expects 2014 to be record year
more news
Today
This Week
1. Woman killed in tram accident in Floisvo, south of Athens
2. Clocks to go back 1 hour on Sunday
3. Venizelos slams Turkey for 'flagrant violation of international law' off Cyprus
4. ECB vies for third time lucky in European stress tests
5. Cyprus GDP upgrade seen as boosting bailout exit plans
6. ECB bank assessment to show 6-billion-euro capital gap, Citi says
Today
This Week
1. The past, present and future of the Greek debt crisis
2. Greeces closed society is central to its current malaise
3. Greece must stick to reforms, says Schaeuble
4. At least 11 banks to fail European stress tests, three in Greece, report says
5. Cyprus to block Turkey's EU talks after EEZ violation
6. Samarass crumbling Greek exit lacks backing from economists
Find us ...
... on
Twitter
... on Facebook
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright 2014, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.