Mr. Apostolos Michalopoulos, Director-First Counsellor for Economic & Commercial Affairs at the Hellenic Ministry for Foreign Affairs (Β1 Directorate for Extroversion Planning and Coordination of Extroversion Bodies) in Athens talks to Ambrosia Magazine about the added value of the Greek F&B sector and its key role as a major exporting product.

Please tell us a few things about the f&b sector abroad.
High-quality products and organized promotion of Greek foods in international markets. This is the competitive advantages of the Food & Beverage (f&b) sector, the strength of Greece’s brand name: olive oils, table olives, cheese, honey, fruits, vegetables, cereals, bread, pastry, fish and related products, other products of animal origin, gums and natural resins, essential oils and many other products.

Greek companies have managed to modernize and differentiate. Over the past 10 years, there are several examples of companies in the food sector that have achieved significant market shares abroad by leveraging the combination of traditional Greek ingredients with innovative marketing and packaging procedures.

In the Greek Food Industry, around 1.225 industries are active with approximately 360.000 direct and indirect employees, managing a €20 billion annual turnover with €8,1 billion total exports in 2022, an increase of 17.6% compared to the previous year.

Given the above environment, Greek food manufacturers can take advantage of their smaller scale, have access to high-quality inputs and distinguish from the global food manufacturers by gaining market shares and higher prices. On the top of the export products list are: vegetables, fruits, olive oil, dairy products, fresh seafood, canned fruits, olives, raisins, wine, and tomato products.

Driven by the above opportunities, there are several major Greek and international investors already looking to improve the competitiveness of the Greek food sector, by consolidating smaller holdings, shifting production to higher-value crops and investing in innovative production and packaging technologies.

The prospects for the f&b sector remain promising with the industry undergoing consolidation, attracting foreign investments, further developing its marketing and branding efforts, supported by growing consumer demand for healthy and natural foods worldwide.

What is the exporting and the overall potential of major Greek products?
Greek food and agriculture have traditionally been one of the major export sectors for Greece, with a strong presence in the European and a growing presence in the US food market. From olive oil to flour products, honey to processed meats and ready-made meals, Greek companies have leveraged the competitive advantages offered by Greek primary production in order to competitively enter and remain in global markets, making food and agriculture one of the most dynamic and high-growth sectors in Greek manufacturing.

This is a result not only of the richness of Greek soil, but also the passion and traditional knowledge handed down throughout the generations of local producers. Greece ranks 5th, at the European level, regarding the list of agricultural products registered as Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) or Traditional Specialty Guaranteed (TSG) products.

During the last decade, Greek f&b exports have set successive records. In sophisticated consumer markets around the world, the quality of Greek foods have become synonymous with the health benefits and the superior taste of the Mediterranean Diet/Nutrition.

Over the next years, the food & agriculture sector in Greece is expected to be a significant contributor to GDP growth and value added, driven by several key market trends and competitive advantages, such as:

  • the recent shift towards organic, natural ingredients in the Greek agriculture sector, can bring greater premiums and a higher value added
  • the popularity of the Mediterranean Diet/Nutrition, as a premier example of healthy, natural eating habit across the world
  • health, ethics, physical fitness and pleasure behaviors are affecting consumer preferences in developed economies
  • the increased drive for self-sufficiency and food safety
  • the potential for clusters of innovation and R&D in several specialized Greek food supply chains, combining EU funding, the work of research and academic institutes and the interest of industrial champions in the application of new technologies.

Over 113 Greek products have been registered as PDO and PGI, including 33 varieties of wine, 20 different cheeses, 19 varieties of olive oil, 26 vegetables, fruits and legumes products, 2 varieties of honey, as well as the traditional fish roe of Messolonghi, the saffron of Kozani and the mastic of Chios. There is a great number of grape varieties native to Greece, i.e.  Assyrtiko, Moschofilero, Agiorgitiko, Xinomavro and hundreds of other lesser-known varieties, offer seasoned wine lovers a glorious terrain for exploring the diversity and singularity of Greek wines, offering a unique mouthwatering experience.

What do Greek Economic & Commercial Affairs Offices do regarding the f&b sector?
The Offices for Economic and Commercial Affairs-ECA’s of Greek Embassies & Consulates abroad, play a crucial role in supporting and promoting Greek businesses in various sectors, including food and beverages at an international level.

ECA’s activities may include:

Market research and analysis: conducting in-depth market research and analysis to gather information on consumer trends, market demand, and competitive opportunities in target countries. They provide valuable insights to Greek businesses in the food and beverage sector, enabling them to make well-balanced decisions about market entry strategies, product positioning, and pricing.

Trade promotion events: organizing or participating in trade fairs, exhibitions, and business matching events abroad, in close cooperation with Enterprise Greece-EG. These events provide a platform for Greek food and beverage companies to introduce their products to a wider audience, engage with trade partners and seek for business opportunities, in foreign markets, for cooperation and expansion. These events often attract industry professionals and decision-makers from around the world.

Business matchmaking and networking: facilitating business matchmaking by connecting Greek exporters with potential foreign importers, buyers, distributors, and retailers. ECA Offices organize networking events, business seminars, and B2B meetings, where Greek businesses can establish valuable contacts and explore partnerships with key players in the food and beverage industry. These networking opportunities help foster collaborations, exchange knowledge, and promote Greek products internationally.

Export assistance and guidance: providing guidance and supporting Greek businesses looking to enter or expand their presence in foreign markets. They offer information on export procedures, on customs requirements, labeling regulations, certifications, and quality standards, thus helping companies ensure compliance, meet the expectations of the foreign markets, helping Greek companies to navigate the complexities of international trade. This support streamlines the export process and enhances the competitiveness of Greek food and beverage products abroad.

Trade missions and delegations: coordinating trade missions and delegations consisting of Greek food and beverage companies. These missions aim at strengthening trade relations, exploring specific markets, building relationships with local stakeholders, and gaining firsthand knowledge of market conditions and opportunities. ECA Offices arrange meetings with relevant industry associations, potential buyers, distributors, and government officials, encouraging business partnerships and establishing a presence in foreign markets.

It is important to note that specific activities and initiatives may vary from time to time and depend on the priorities and resources allocated to the Offices for Economic and Commercial Affairs-ECA’s. Overall, the activities of ECA’s Offices in the food and beverage sector focus on promoting Greek products, facilitating international trade, and assisting Greek businesses in expanding their market goals.

By providing market insights, organizing trade events, easing connections, and offering export guidance, ECA’s Offices contribute to the growth and success of the Greek food and beverage industry on a global scale.

It is worth whiling and I do recommend for a most up-to-date and detailed information, about trade and business activities, to pay a visit to the following official website: