The Covid-19 pandemic has hit economic activity worldwide, with Greek exports proving no exception as they came under pressure (with non-oil exports declining by 7% in the two months March-April 2020 compared with the same period the previous year). Against this backdrop, Greek food exports were a positive exception, as they built on the country's positive health picture and posted an increase of 9% during the abovementioned period.
The key question is whether this increase, which stems from a particular mix of circumstances, can serve as a springboard for greater penetration into global markets. Such a prospect may well be feasible, as there are several cases of Greek food products that have gained significant export shares over the last decade.
Accordingly, we singled out five food products that have demonstrated successful export strategies: olives, yogurt, honey, kiwi fruit and apples. The key features that seem to have made the difference and therefore can be used by other Greek foods as a strategy for penetrating global markets are:
- Target developed markets
- Focus on branded products (not bulk)
- Achieve adequate volume to compete in the premium market
Given the asymmetric impact of the pandemic among the Mediterranean countries (with Greece in a relatively more advantageous position), the situation can be considered favourable for pursuing the maximum possible share for Greece in the global food markets (given the production capacity of our country). A first estimate of the potential benefit of this export-oriented strategy (based on our position versus the main competitor, Italy) is close to €1.2 billion per year (with food exports rising to €6 billion from €4.8 billion in 2019).