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Monday, 12 March 2012

Greeks prefer Greek products........... but buy imported ones





Asked: "Which products do you prefer - Greek or imported?" over 90% of the respondents answered "Greek." And more than half of them said that Greek products are not only better but also safer. At the same time, however, Greece imports 10,000 tons of fresh foodstuffs. Oranges, lemons, apples, potatoes, but also veal, pork, lamb, goat or even hundreds of tons of fish are imported in Greece from various countries. Last year, even «German» olive oil was imported in the country. Of course, imports of olive oil is completely legal activity, but the strange thing is that nobody knows exactly how far it goes.

More precisely, in 2011 Greece has imported 5650 tons of oranges (worth 3 million euro), 29,485 tons of lemons (19 million euro), 22,704 tons of apples (18 million euro) and 174,352 tons of potatoes (77 million euro). Additionally, 382 million euro were spent on imports of beef, 354 million euro - for the import of pork, and for imports of lamb and goat meat - 39 million euro. Expenditures for imports of fish, for the amount of 348 million euro in 2011 are also impressively high. Especially when it comes to meat and fish, the majority of imported products are given Greek names for consumers to buy them. And while the prices at which manufacturers sell are low, consumers buy the goods at a tripled price.
The easy solution is to blame intermediaries, the "bad traders" who don’t prefer Greek producers but import goods from abroad because they find them at lower prices. Unfortunately, things are more complex and often quite irrational.
The main reason for the import is that we, consumers, want to be able to buy all the products throughout the year, ignoring the weather conditions and the laws of nature. Thus for example, in the season when the Greek apples end, begins the import of apples from Italy to meet market demand. In while in the summer there is hardly any Greek oranges, demand increases because of the influx of tourists who drink Greek juice made with Argentinian oranges.
Greek producers who are often the "spoiled children" orthe victims of a system that does not care about market needs, have learned to produce without regard to the quality of their product. A typical example for this is Laconia, where most oranges rot under the trees, because no one wants to collect them as a result of the low purchase price. Producers in the region were used to selling their oranges for juice production and to receive subsidies for this, without being interested in the quality of the manufactured product. Now, when subsidies were seized, the quality of their product has been discredited and can not find its share on the market.
Cooperatives
Cooperatives, which under normal conditions should take care of the placing of their members' production, act as just another intermediary in the best case scenario. They gather the yield of their members and without offering them a price seek a buyer. If they don’t find one, they just take a loan ... But even manufacturers who sell their goods directly to the merchants agree to make discounts but for the proper price. Since most farmers are not taxed on the basis of the invoices they issue, they often agree to write in the invoice a higher price. In this way the seller has an excuse to raise prices, and producers themselves will get more money from the return of VAT.
Examples of the "sick" way in which the market of agricultural products operates in Greece are endless. You will not find imported beef in any butcher shop. So what happened with the 102,036 tons of beef imported into the country from France, Holland, Germany, Italy, Denmark, Spain, Belgium and Poland? And if all of them are selling local pork meat, who bought the 194,281 tons of imported pork from Holland, Germany, France and Spain?
Clean fish by courier
Direct sale of agricultural products is not easy, but it is something that has long been organized in different ways. For example, open markets for organic products, which operate in different neighbourhoods and have earned the trust of consumers. There only producers of organic products offer their products at prices much better than in other places that sell similar products. Also, many manufacturers sell their products via the Internet. Costas Kremidas, a manufacturer from Crete has been sending for two years customized "baskets" of agricultural products in Athens (the e-mail address is: biokremmydas.wikidot.com). You can buy olive oil from Messinia through the site www.meladi.gr, as well as olive oil and other agricultural products from Laconia through the site www.aristeos.gr. From the site www.arosis.gr you can buy Greek beans from Kastoria and Prespes, from the producers who cooperate with the company. Or you could order fish from the Fishing association in Kalymnos (22430 and 23888) that will be delivered to your home the next day by courier and it will be cleaned. In this way, the company Logistics-way is preparing an electronic platform for all products where each producer will be able to display his products.
Meanwhile, the Association of traders from the central vegetable market in Thessaloniki refused wholesalers to be characterized as intermediaries, and described as a wrong move the decision of traders from the central market in Athens to sell their goods to consumers at wholesale prices.

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