Investing In Taste
Investors are starting to make gains by combining traditional Greek foods with modern business practices
Greece is ideally placed to take advantage of the global shift to a Mediterranean diet. A tradition several centuries long enriched with high quality means agribusiness has huge growth potential. And Greek and international companies are starting to invest in improving supply chains, adding value to products and developing new markets. Several companies are proving how this potential can be capitalized on, with a prime example being leading cured meat producer Nikas. After undergoing significant changes, it is on the path to transformation through planned and strategic growth, having been bought by Chipita, a food company operating in 25 countries.
The new ownership will enable our expansion plans, says Managing Director Aggeliki Oikonomou, whose priority is to “invest and create new innovative products,” to strengthen its presence in the market, tap into new ones and become more export oriented. Its first target is central Europe, “due to its high cured meat consumption,” says Oikonomou. Nikas is also heavily investing in machinery, like pasteurization equipment to increase shelf life and allow exports further afield.
“The keys to our success were branding coupled with
quality and new product development.”
Michael A. O’Neill, Chairman, Dodoni
Another business investing is Dodoni, the dairy company synonymous with feta, which it exports to over 40 countries. In 2012, it became one of Greece’s first privatizations when a 67.7% share was acquired by Strategic Initiative Foods. The new leadership is showing how to transform a public company into a thriving corporation, having invested in modernizing all aspects of the business, including production. Chairman Michael A. O’Neill explains, “the keys to our success were branding coupled with quality and new product development.” Dodoni is already one of Greece’s top three yogurt brands and is expanding its product line and planning exports. Why invest in Greece? O’Neill replies “the food product ingredients and their purity. And the workforce, which is very hungry to learn and hard working.” across the region, presenting many options which are easy to access and satisfying all kinds of tastes.
Agribusiness is set to play a key role in Greece’s economic recovery
Top-quality products mean that Greece’s agribusiness has significant added-value and export potential
“Agribusiness is a top priority in our development plan: Greece 2021,” states Minister of Rural Development and Food, Evangelos Apostolou. It’s not hard to understand why. Agribusiness has long been a major export sector and, as the world moves towards the Mediterranean diet, the country has maintained a positive trade gap in a wide range of products, many of which have stable prices and rising demand.
This success is attributed in part to the uniqueness of Greek products or, as Dodoni’s Chairman, Michael A. O’Neill puts it “the added advantage of real taste”. Managing Director of Nikas, Aggeliki Oikonomou, believes a traditional approach to its recipes will prove to be advantageous in foreign markets, stating “we are committed to maintaining that traditional Greek taste.”
Topping the list of Greek exports are vegetables, fruit, olive oil, dairy, seafood, olives and wine. Europe is their biggest market, but sales to countries including China and the US are rapidly increasing. Constantine Boutaris, President and CEO of leading Greek wine company Boutari Winery, thinks “the US is the main country for promoting Greek wines, because they are open to new experiences.”
The financial crisis is having a positive impact on agribusiness, with producers becoming more efficient, competitive and export-focused, and moving towards higher- value crops and products.
“We are committed to maintaining that traditional Greek taste.”
Aggeliki Oikonomou, Managing Director, Nikas
This is being driven by government initiatives, the private sector and by farmers’ cooperatives, which are helping to modernize production methods and improve entrepreneurial skills. Apostolou says “we are focusing our endeavours on the Greek diaspora to promote agribusiness as much as possible.”
The importance of the sector is clear both in terms of exports and economic impact. Dodoni’s CEO Tom Seepers notes that, with 500 employees, it plays a big economic role within the region: “every year we pump over €80 million into the local economy.”
Yet stiff international competition means that neither the government nor producers can rest on their laurels. Increased efforts must be placed on creating a strong international Greek brand, “and the necessary marketing platform for exclusive quality Greek products” concludes O’Neill.