The Canadian food giant McCain starts cooperation with Greek potato growers

The Canadian food giant McCain presented its initiative for Corporate Social Responsibility called “Karpos Frontidas” (Care Fruit) on 6th of May in Athens. According to Mr. George Gonos, the Managing Director of McCain in Southeastern Europe, the company in the global strategy for Corporate Social Responsibility, chose Greece for the implementation of this initiative. That is the 25 hectares cultivation of potato in a remote area of Greece by 25 Greek growers. It is about the border village Notia (Municipality Almopia in Pella) that fulfills all those social and economic criteria and soil requirements that the company was looking for cooperation. The produced potatoes would be standardized and sold through a specific Greek super – market chain.

The McCain will offer certified seed, train producers on good agricultural practices and purchase necessary equipment for sorting, cooling and storage. The goal of this effort is that the production would rise to 2,000 tonnes three years later from 900 estimated to be produced this year. In this effort, the company’s partners are: BASF Hellas, the Network for Corporate Social Responsibility, AB Vassilopoulos (super-market chain), the American Farm School, Piraeus Bank, Greece Sustainability 2020, while the initiative is also supported by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.

The program starts with 25 hectares

Mr. George Gonos the Managing Director at McCain Southeastern Europe said: “we are talking about an integrated intervention for which 25 farmers will cultivate 25 hectares and produce 900 tonnes of potatoes. It is known that there is only one way for financially recovering of producers cooperating and those being in the future, which is gradually converting from simple farm workers to small entrepreneurs of the primary economic sector. Great, essential and no decorative colleagues stand by us. It is important for us to choose our colleagues before our next step in our project”. Mr. Gonos, referred to the cooperation of McCain with BASF, stated that: “Starting with a friendly relationship with Mr. Vasilis Gounaris, the Managing Director of BASF Hellas, we discovered that we have many things to do in common, such as farmers supporting with pesticides, better commercial terms but above all providing them with good agricultural practices that ensure the “Karpos Frontidas” will be “free” of residues.

Greece – Canada

During the presentation event Mr. Robert W. Peck, Canadian Ambassador to Greece, referred to the need of success stories in order Greece overcomes the problems caused by the economic crisis. He described McCain as one of the Canadian success stories and added that actions like the “Karpos Frontidas” strengthen Greek-Canadian relations.

MacCain since 1957

Mr. Jean Bernou, CEO of MacCain Continental Europe praised this effort, noting that “Karpos Frontidas” is an attempt that has to succeed. “We should expect not only from governments and politicians to take initiatives. Private initiative could play a very important role in handling the economic crisis faced by Europe and Greece” he said. Furthermore Mr. Bernou reported McCain’s profile stressing that it is a family business based in Canada which was founded in 1957 by four brothers, the sons of a potato farmer in Florenceville. Nowadays, McCain manages more than 5 mil. tonnes of potatoes per year co working with a global network of more than 4,000 growers. In northern France, the company owns three factories (in cities Harnew, Matouques, Bethune) and works exclusively with more than 1,000 local producers.

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