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Greece: exports are on the rise

09/05/2023 - François-Xavier Branthôme - Lire en français
Canned tomatoes sector to spearhead Greek exports?

Greek exports of tomato pastes (codes 200290) in 2022 (January-December) repeated the excellent results recorded in 2021, almost identically: with a total quantity of 44,957 metric tonnes (mT), only a few dozen containers would have been needed last year to equal the quantities shipped the previous year (45,729 mT). These last two results, which consolidate a recovery of Greek products on the international markets after a drastic reduction in foreign sales between 2015 and 2019, were about 30% higher than the average level of operations in the years before the Covid pandemic. 2022 results for the Greek industry have also progressed by 19% compared to the average of the previous three years.

This increase in quantities has mainly been due to the historical outlets of the Greek industry, which traditionally exports more than 90% of its products to European markets (EU and non-EU). Of the 10,000 mT of extra exports (+36%) compared to the pre-Covid period, more than 7,200 mT came to swell the flows shipped to EC markets, in particular the German, Belgian and Austrian ones and, to a lesser extent, Hungarian and Czech ones. Outside the EU, Greek products have made progress on both British and Norwegian markets. 
Conversely, export dynamics declined slightly in 2022 compared to the pre-pandemic period (2017-2019) on the Bulgarian, Serbian, Saudi and South African markets.

For the current marketing year, the quantities of pastes exported by the Greek industry over the twelve months to the end of February 2023 were 4,000 mT (about 8%) lower than in the previous corresponding period (March 2021-February 2022) but nearly 5,300 mT (+14%) higher than over the corresponding period (March-February) of the previous three years (2020-2022) (see additional information at the end of this article and our monthly global trade sections).

Revenue from external sales of pastes in 2022 amounted to approximately EUR 41 million, which is slightly less than half of the total income from all exports of tomato products throughout the calendar year. For the record, pastes accounted for about 55% of the total income in the pre-Covid period and for more than two-thirds ten years ago.

This shift in recorded operations is not related to a loss of momentum in the paste sector but to a recent surge in foreign sales of canned tomatoes (codes 200210). Even if the country's results have a long way to go before they could rival those of Italy, the Greek sector nevertheless shows a determined progression that has increased foreign sales from 33,000 mT in 2018 to nearly 58,000 mT in 2022. This last performance is almost 23,000 mT (+65%) higher than the pre-Covid average and almost one-third higher than the past three years.
The markets driving this development belong to the historical commercial sphere of Greek trade activities, with, in first place, the British and Norwegian markets, followed by the Swedish, Belgian, Polish and Cypriot ones. Still in comparison with the period preceding the pandemic, some destinations recorded a drop in trade flows, this being the case of the Netherlands, France and the Czech Republic, although this has only been minor in comparison with the increases.
In fact, with income of about EUR 37 million last year, the financial weight of canned tomato exports in Greek foreign trade results has increased from 28% in 2013 to more than 44% in 2022.

As the quantities involved are minimal compared to those of the other two sectors, the relative weight of Greek exports of sauces (codes 210320) has not varied significantly over the past decade, averaging around 6% of total income, with an annual turnover of around EUR 4.6 million over the past five years.
Market outlets are once again centered on Europe in the broadest sense of the term, especially since the Japanese market, the main customer for Greek sauces until 2016 or 2017, is now sourcing from Dutch and US producers. In 2022, Greece's main markets for this category were Cyprus, Sweden, Albania, Hungary, and the UK.

In the final count, Greek exports of tomato products, which have increased significantly in quantity and value in recent years, generated an overall turnover of about EUR 83 million in 2022, of which 57% on European Union markets and 95% on the European continent as a whole.

Some complementary data
Details of the revenue generated by Greek exports of tomato products, according to category and region of destination.

Comparison of the current year's monthly exports with those of the previous year and with average monthly exports of the previous three years.

Source: TDM
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