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Greece: Winning the local market with Hellenic farming strategies

Hellenic Farming is a Greek agricultural company with over 80 years experience in the agricultural sector. The company is mainly active in the production of agricultural inputs such as plant protection products, fertilizers and seeds. In the last ten years, the group added the production of greenhouse tomatoes its activities. 
 
Loukia Efthymiadis represents Hellenic Farming. “We started with growing regular cluster tomatoes, which we grow in a hydroponic glass greenhouse from October until July. This was done by way of experiment during a time when these types of tomatoes weren’t available yet. We didn’t expect Greek consumers to like these types of tomatoes, as they’re quite small and Greek consumers usually prefer the larger “beef” tomatoes. We intended to produce cluster tomatoes mainly for export, with as much as 60% being bound for foreign markets. But we wound up selling almost 100% on the local market.”



“We noticed that there was demand in the local market for new types of tomatoes with high quality and added-value. At the time branding in fresh produce was something new for the Greek market, so we started selling our cluster tomatoes under the brand “Lucia Tomato, also adding new products to the cluster tomatoes, such as baby and coloured tomatoes.”

Since then, the company has been working exclusively with the contract farming system, which allowed for improved quality and safety control, as well as more opportunities to increase volumes.


 
In the last 3 years Hellenic Farming started experimenting in the production of different varieties of high quality potatoes, trying out different varieties, such as Belmonta, Safari and Queen Anne. The potatoes are grown in various regions in Greece in order to have produce available for more months within the year. The potatoes weren’t originally added to the Lucia brand, as this was still an experiment. This year however, the potatoes have been properly introduced and sold to Greek supermarkets or grocery stores in 3 kilo bags, along with the rebranded image of “Lucia Tomato” to “Lucia’s Farm." With the new Lucia’s Farm brand, the company presents itself as a more natural way of growing and marketing produce, while also giving more room to start producing other types of fruits and vegetables.

One of the key factors to the company’s success is contract farming, explains Loukia, “The idea is still new in Greece and not done regularly. Cooperatives and farmers however are now more open-minded, allowing them to be part of our integrated crop management system. Contract farming allows us to monitor the farmers, supervise their production process and control the chemicals and pesticide that could be harmful to the fruit.”



According to Loukia, the brand Lucia’s Farm was named that way for it to be easily pronounced in English. However, the company still hasn’t started with regular export activity as the total production volume is not sufficient. As Greece is the number one consumer of tomatoes, demand is very strong locally. The company is putting a lot of effort in promoting itself such as through merchandising efforts inside super markets and through social media.



Loukia sees their company growing. The main challenge for Hellenic Farming and Lucia’s Farm is the lack of space in their own greenhouse. “We are looking to supply tomatoes to areas like Cyprus, the Balkans and central Europe in the near future. This means we would have to build another hydroponic greenhouse, and to that end we are already planning a new investment in a greenhouse which will utilize the hot-spring water available in the area of Xanthi in northern Greece. We are currently in talks with several collaborators abroad, so hopefully we will be available internationally soon.”

For more information:

Loukia Efthymiadis
Hellenic Farming (Greece)
Mob: +302610647580
Email: loukia@efthymiadis.gr
http://www.luciasfarm.gr
www.facebook.com/luciasfarm.gr
www.hellenicfarming.gr

Publication date: 6/9/2017

 


 

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