The financial crisis in Greece is bad news for many – but the country’s food manufacturers say they are benefiting as the euro’s depreciation against the dollar has made their products more competitive outside the euro zone.
And many are hoping to pick up extra sales in the UAE. A number of Greek businessmen who attended the Gulfood exhibition in Dubai said reports about the crisis in the international press had been exaggerated and they were seeing an increase in sales.
“The financial crisis is affecting Greek firms and businesses because it affects people’s shopping behaviour,” said John Taousanis, Export Director of fish company North Aegean Sea Canneries. “Even people who have money are scared to spend it.
“A few months ago the global media’s attention was on the so-called Dubai World crisis and now the focus has shifted to Greece. In a few months’ time the focus will shift to another European country. There are problems all over the world but the current situation is helping us to expand our exports because our goods are becoming cheaper ouside the euro zone. In the United States, our products are 40 to 50 per cent cheaper than American brands. And we are optimistic about doing business in Dubai.”
Taousanis, who was visiting the city for the first time, said his company produced canned mackerel, herring, octopus, squid, sardines, anchovies and tuna.
Georgia Paradissi, Export Manager Agro VI M, said the company’s olive oil products were sold through Spinneys, Carrefour and other supermarket chains and were normally a little more expensive than rival brands from Jordan, Lebanon and other Gulf countries.
“The current exchange rate is helping the company’s position in the regional and global markets,” he added. “However, the gain is greater in the US market where the euro-dollar exchange rate benefits the Greek brands.”
Alexander Christodoulou, Area Sales Manager of another Greek company, CHB Fruit Processing, said the crisis was giving a boost to food exports.
“We can now take advantage of the weak euro and enjoy a clear advantage over US products in world markets. We have many customers in the UAE such as Aujan Industries and other processing units. We’re able to sell at a cheaper price now due to the euro’s weakness, we enjoy a price advantage in the UAE market.”
Alexander Theodoulidis, Senior Manager of the processed fruits division of Venus Growers, said the firm was trying to win new orders in the Middle East.
“We produce 50,000 tonnes of canned peaches, canned fruit cocktail, fruits in plastic pots and peach puree,” he added.
“As the dollar is getting stronger we are gaining from the current financial turmoil,” he said.
“The country’s debt crisis has no impact on our company’s dealings with our regular customers.”
Theodoulidis said he had received many inquiries from visitors to the Greek pavilion at Gulfood. Twenty-three companies from the country took part in the show and the Greek Ministry of Economy Competitiveness and Shopping was also represented.