In recent years European consumers seem to have turned to new grape varieties. This has as a result the creation of a new “shelf” (as it’s called in the language of the traders) in the super-markets with new and more expensive grapes appealing to consumers with a greater purchasing power than the average. Protagonist in this category (within Europe) emerges by far Spain, although it is not the first European country in production (first position is held by Italy, followed by Spain and the third place is occupied by Greece). The President of Pegasus Coop-Producers Organization “7 Grapes”, Markos Leggas talks to “Agrotypos.com” about the new varieties and the estimation about the table grape market. “7 Grapes” is one of the most important Greek cooperative organizations, which is based in Corinth.
Mr Legas, is the consumption of table grapes in Europe expected increased or decreased this year?
Grape is between the No1 fruits due to its nutritional value and therefore its consumption will not decrease. In general this can hardly happen. In other words, grape can’t easily be excluded from the consumer’s basket. That’s why prices may be pushed down, in order to be more attractive during the economic recession. In this way either super markets or producers will lose income.
Which European country does impress with both its products and its position in the market?
The country which is doing better in table grape is Spain. This is the leader market. This has been achieved firstly because of its advantages. First of all transport is cheap, as Spain (comparatively to Italy and Greece) is closer to the big markets of Europe. Spain have also too early invested in the new varieties, friendly to the producer, which is called “grower’s friendly”, or in other words varieties requiring less plant protection application to give great production. At the same time large financed plantings took place. So, it’s not easy either for Greece or Italy to compete them.
In your opinion, what is Greece doing wrong?
Greece has not invested in all the above mentioned, so the only thing it can propose to the traders of Europe is the sultanas until the end of October and small quantities of the red variety Crimson. But the trade requires suppliers who can provide it with products for much longer, in order to avoid imports from countries such as Brazil and South Africa.
This year what do you expect about the producer’s prices?
We don’t expect different prices compared to last year. But there are pressures in the market. As far as we know Spain shall have less production. But this doesn’t necessarily mean an increase to the Greek producer prices. After all, the games played in the international markets are many and we have experienced them in the past. For example, some super markets raise the prices of the Greek grapes in the shelf reducing thus the consumption. We experienced something like that, even in peak season, two years ago.ich is the best market in Europe for a table grape exporter?
The British market pays better but it’s not the greatest in Europe. This place is occupied by Germany, but it doesn’t pay equally well.