Greek kiwifruit companies continue to aim for top quality in the face of a succession of challenges concerning the climate, energy and consumption
Greek kiwifruit producers have faced uncertainty before, but a combination of factors, including the summer’s extreme temperatures, soaring costs and falling consumption, means there appears to be no respite following the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Everything is still very uncertain in terms of how the season will evolve,” says Christina Manossis, general manager of Zeus Kiwi. “With inflation so high, consumption is going to be badly affected, it will be less than previous years.”
Following the scorching summer temperatures, volumes and sizes are a concern for the coming season, according to Kolios’s CEO, Christos Kolios. “So is the 35 per cent drop in consumption,” he adds. “We don’t know what’s happened this year. This is a very critical season regarding kiwifruit. We will see.”
Labour costs are currently high, but more of a concern is the increase in transportation costs, according to Kolios. “Before the war in Ukraine, he says, to reach the Netherlands we paid €90 per pallet. After January 2022, we paid €110. Now we have a new price: €200.”
According to sales manager Elena Kolios, shipping within Europe has become so expensive that it is overtaking overseas shipping. “To Busan [in South Korea], it is something like €0.26-0.28 per kilo,” she says, “while to the Netherlands it is €0.24-0.25. Can you imagine this?”
Despite the challenges, Greek companies continue to strive for the best quality fruit, investing in new technologies and remaining at the forefront of sustainability efforts.
“There are always challenges,” says Nick Pardalis, QA manager at Protofanousi Fruits, “but since it’s the same for everyone, we can only try to adapt better. We are trying not just to adjust but to predict future needs. In addition to our investments in new machinery, we have made a huge investment in solar panels, our aim being for 95 per cent of our energy to come from the sun. This is something we are already implementing, so next season we will hopefully achieve this target.”
Pardalis sees the impact of the summer heat wave as a potential problem for Greek kiwifruit this season. “The size appears to be a bit smaller,” he says. “That’s the only issue we see with the fruit. But there is a chance that that might change. All we can do is make sure the taste is always there, and the eating experience, and that the fruit is perfectly safe for consumption. That’s what people really care about.”