A quotation from Mellody Hobson, the chairwoman of the Starbucks Corporation, rings true at Greek supplier Protofanousi Fruits: “The biggest risk of all is not taking one,” she apparently said.
“At Protofanousi Fruits, the largest Greek kiwifruit and cherry supplier and a force to be reckoned with in table grapes, we keep this quote close to heart because we know that leading does not come from playing it safe,” explains export director George Kallitsis.
Since its founding back in 1928, the company has of course had to identify many opportunities. “Thanks to Proto's hard work, our ever-expanding clientele have come to realise that Greek fruit is not only among the best in the world but, with proper storing and handling, consistent quality and availability, long-term relationships between Proto and demanding customers can flourish,” says Kallitsis.
Recognising the opportunities for Greek grapes, Proto is aiming for further expansion in the category. A brand-new table grape packing line from Marco UK is reportedly in the works and is set to be fully operational for the upcoming grape season.
“Detailed weighing and monitoring systems, as well as a highly efficient overall design, will allow Proto to pack approximately 40 pallets of punnets per day, while maintaining the high quality our clients are accustomed to,” explains Kallitsis.
After three years of extensive research, exploring the solutions of various sizer suppliers, Proto has also reached an agreement with Compac/Icoel for a new state-of-the-art kiwifruit sizer/sorter.
This new machine consists of 12 lanes, is fully automated at all production stages and is equipped with the latest optical sorting hardware and software supplied by Tomra. With a packing capacity of 40 pallets per hour, Kallitsis says, Proto will be able to meet the demands of any customer worldwide.
Both investments fall under the company’s €11m investment plan, which is expected to be fully implemented by 2023. As Nikos Protofanousis, the CEO and owner of Proto, points out, the key principles behind the company's growth have remained the same down the years: “Quality, quantity, duration,” he says. “The recent multi-million investments are part of that, ensuring the daily goal of Protofanousi Fruits, to keep making our customers happy.”