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The cherry value chain: insights from Greece’s Freskon

Held in Salonika (Thessaloniki), in Greece, in April, Freskon brought together fruit producers and international buyers.

Held last month in Salonika (Thessaloniki), in Greece, Freskon brought together fruit producers and international buyers.

At the international trade show, Mario Njavro, from the University of Zagreb, spoke about managing the value chain in cherries, in particular the activities and services required to bring a product to sale in its final markets. Here are some highlights from his presentation.

Modern agriculture and its challenges

Agribusiness globally is constantly changing. The competition is getting tougher at all levels, globally and domestically, and environmental issues are becoming more important. The market structure has also been altering; retail chains are strengthening and consumer demands, legal and policy issues are constantly changing, too.

Modern horticulture has been on the rise recently. Fresh fruit and vegetable supply chains are estimated to be worth more than €120 billion a year, with approximately 550,000 employees and 1.4 million farm holdings.

Thanks to increased incomes and the transformation of consumer behaviour, high value products happen to be more and more in demand. Farmers should therefore introduce innovations in production and post-harvest technology (packaging, etc.). Small farms are turning into huge commercial enterprises with large holdings of greenhouse, field crops and extensive orchards.

Europe’s top cherry growers

In Europe, the largest producer by far is Turkey, with 84,000 ha of production area for sour cherries and 21,000 ha for sweet cherries. The second largest producer is Poland (32,000 ha of sweet and 46,000 ha of sour cherries). These are followed by Italy, Spain, Serbia, Hungary, Bulgaria and France. The cherry production area in other European countries covers less than 10,000 ha in each.


Meanwhile, the highest yields are in Romania (108 kg/ha) and the Netherlands (95 kg/ha), while in Turkey and Germany it is 68 kg/ha and in other countries the yield is less than 50 kg/ha.

Fruit sector supply chain in Croatia: farmers’ problems

Coming from Zagreb, Mr Njavro gave an overview of the fruit supply chain in Croatia. “Croatia’s retail sector has experienced extremely rapid growth, among the fastest in the world,” he said. This has involved dramatic changes in the supermarket chains’ procurement systems.

Smaller farmers generally do not meet the requirements of retailers and must sell their produce to supermarkets via wholesalers. At the same time, present and past experience with cooperatives in the fruit sector in Croatia shows organising farmers into cooperatives creates particular problems.

The leading model of vertical coordination between fruit growers and supermarkets in Croatia is restricted to loose, one-year marketing contracts. Farm assistance through structured financing instruments is provided exclusively by dedicated wholesalers (with the exception of one dominant supermarket chain).

Key challenges

For Njavro, the main challenges for cherry producers and fruit farmers are: competitiveness; product development and quality strategy; value redistribution strategy; cost reduction; development of new markets; and investments for market penetration.


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Inaugural Freskon Exhibition & International Cherry Conference this April in Greece

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Accelerating the export penetration of Greek cherries into foreign markets is the goal of the 1st Freskon exhibition, to be held April 23–25.

Organised by TIF-Helexpo in Thessaloniki, the event will also incorporate the International Cherry Conference.

The conference will map the cherry market at the international level as well as cover new technology for cherry cultivation, forecasts for the new season in the main cherry-producing countries, the commercial dynamism of the product and methods-proposals for better marketing.

Subjects to be covered at the conference also include:

  • the management and development of cherry research in Greece: Issues and choices;

  • priorities in research and innovation during the new 2014-2020 programming period for the Agro-nutrition platform;

  • innovation in propagation and varieties of cherry trees’;

  • pruning and crown forming in dense cherry plantations: a physiological approach;

  • cherry value chain management;

  • X-TEND Modified Atmosphere Packaging by StePac for the preservation of cherries;

  • Luna®Ligoteres losses – Increased production (LessWaste – MoreProduce);

  • Integrated pest management solutions in cherry from BayerCropScience;

  • efficient nutrition of cherries; and

  • effect of calcium nutrition on fruit quality.

The conference will feature speakers from all the cherry-producing countries of the Mediterranean and participants in the FRESKON exhibition will come into contact with representatives of major foreign supermarket chains, commercial enterprises and distribution companies-networks.

The exhibition will also host foreign exhibitors who are active in the sector and represent the latest developments concerning fresh fruit, vegetables, logistics, machinery and packaging materials.

Hosted buyers (foreign trade visitors) will be arriving from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, China & Hong Kong, the Czech Republic, Poland, Sweden, Norway, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, England, Lebanon, Belgium, Malta, Turkey, Egypt, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

Over 2,400 scheduled appointments between hosted buyers and FRESKON exhibitors have already been set and this number is expected to increase by April.

Also noteworthy are the parallel events to be held in the framework of the exhibition, the most outstanding of which are the International Cherry Conference and the special section on Supermarkets.

At the section on Supermarkets, which will take place with the participation of Greek and Balkan supermarket chains in a specially created area, exhibitors will have the opportunity to attend scheduled meetings to discuss and develop partnerships.

Furthermore, within the framework of parallel events, innovations and new technologies in the sector will be analysed, while the distribution and sale of fresh fruit & vegetables from representatives of foreign supermarket chains in the Balkan market (Bulgaria, Serbia, Romania and FYROM) will be discussed.


Find out more and register:


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Greek fruit export volumes up


Greece seeing growth in its fruit export volumes

Greek exports of citrus, apples, cucumbers, kiwifruit and table grapes were all up in volume for the week to January 9, compared to the same time a year ago, figures from the Federation of Greek Export and Consignment Enterprises for Fruit, Vegetables and Juices show.

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As can be seen in the graph below – recently published on the Incofruit-Hellas website – the growth in kiwifruit exports is particularly striking.

Greece is also enjoying growth in its exports of oranges, the main destinations for which are Germany (30%), Poland, Romania and Hungary, with the Nordic countries an emerging market.

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Source: Hellenic Ministry of Rural Development and Food- Division Agricultural Policy and Documentation, Department of Agricultural Statistics

2014: a year marked by the Russian veto

According to other information from Incofruit-Hellas, while the volume of Greek fresh fruit and vegetables exports for January-October last year increased nearly 8%, the value fell 4% compared to the same period in 2013. (Based on preliminary data from Greece’s statistics bureau ELSTAT.)