Greece’s Zeus Kiwi says the past grape season would have been a great one in any average year, as its growers seek to adapt to a future of higher costs
In a “normal” year, the past grape season in Greece would have been a great success, according to Zeus Kiwi, but normal years are starting to appear a thing of the past, and most agree that higher costs look set to stay.
“The market in Europe was quite good,” says managing director Zisis Manossis. “We had a good grape season commercially and the selling price was not bad, but not enough to cover all the extra costs of the last 18 months. We are seeing higher costs for fertiliser and labour, and there is also a shortage of workers. On the packing side, costs have increased by around 20 per cent overall.”
“Growers’ returns have been lower than previous years,” adds sales manager Antonis Ioannidis, “so the growers are suffering and exporters are also facing difficulties. It’s a tough situation, that’s for sure. A couple of years ago, when Covid hit, the impact on logistics was a big concern. Nowadays there is availability of containers and the situation is more stable. But the cost of transport has risen significantly, and that is affecting the overall profitability of growers and exporters.”
According to Manossis, switching to nearby markets in order to cut down on transportation costs is not really a short-term option. “Some overseas destinations are a possibility,” he says. “But when your market is 100 per cent in Europe, it is not easy to switch to alternative markets quickly. It takes years to build relationships with customers outside Europe. That’s what we’ve been trying to do in recent years.”
“Our growers are also conscious of the need to adapt,” says Ioannidis, “looking at new varieties, fruit that is more productive. I don’t see the cost situation improving in the short term. I think the higher costs will stick with us. Any increase at retail level will not be enough to cover additional costs, and the average consumer has lost a lot of buying power.”
“It is not an easy situation, but what can you do?” asks Manossis. “It is not easy to persuade the retailers to increase their prices. If they can avoid it, they will. And there is a lot pressure from the media to keep prices at the same level.”