Market and Trade Data
Adding to the Mix in Greece’s Food Processing Sector
also . . .
FAS Report GR6005
Summer Olympic Games attracted more than 14 million
visitors to Greece. In 2005, the number of tourists
increased to more than 16 million. These numbers not
only have had a tremendous effect on the tourism
industry, but also they have contributed to a rise in
Greece, an EU (European Union) member with a population
of 11 million, is a food import-dependent country. In
2004, Greece imported $6.2 billion in agricultural and
food products and exported $3.2 billion.
A large portion of those products are used in the food
processing sector, which had earnings of $12 billion in
2005. While most of these imports come from other EU
nations, the United States is a substantial trading
partner with Greece, exporting $167.5 million of
agricultural, fish, and forestry products there in
calendar year 2005, up from $127 million in 2004 just a
Due to its increasing need for imports, the Greek food
processing sector is a growing market with good
potential for U.S. exporters.
Market Access and Potential
food processing sector now forms 23 percent of the
manufacturing sector and employs 23 percent of the labor
force. Additionally, Greece has more than 300,000
trading establishments, most of which are family-owned
businesses that deal in a narrow range of foods.
Eighty percent of Greece’s import trade is handled
through sales agents or distributors. Distributors
operate on a wholesale or retail basis, often with
exclusive sales rights for either certain districts or
the entire country. The agents usually undertake
promotional campaigns for the products they import, and
most distributors have nationwide distribution channels.
Many Greek importers favor U.S. products because of
their good quality and variety. Greek imports have risen
over the past year and are expected to continue to
increase. Greece’s major imports from the United States
include tree nuts, poultry meat, processed fruits and
vegetable juices, edible dry beans, and fresh fruits.
Additionally, the exchange rate between the dollar and
the euro has recently favored U.S. products. The average
rate in 2005 was $1.00 = € 0.788.
In calendar year 2005, more than half of Greece’s
imports of U.S. agricultural, fish, and forest
products – $95.2 million – were consumer-oriented
Greek food habits remain traditional, social changes, an
increase in disposable income, and growing independence
of Greek teenagers are increasing eating out, catering,
and fast food consumption. In 2004, fast-food chain
restaurant sales were $500 million. As a result,
consumer-oriented products constitute the fast-growing
category of Greece’s imports from the United States. In
2005, Greece’s imports of U.S. consumer-oriented
products reached a record $95.2 million.
has potential for commodities like frozen foods, snack
foods, ingredients and beverages. Due to limited local
production and high production costs, Greece is a
promising market for imported wines.
The nut and dried fruit market is also experiencing an
upward trend, and the market favors companies that offer
high quality products at fair prices. Large consumption
coupled with insufficient local production provide good
potential for tree nut imports from the United States,
including almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, and pecans.
Additionally, sales in the frozen seafood market has
increased a steady 6 percent annually over the last
several years, and this trend is expected to continue
due to new products and higher quality.
current and potential market for U.S. commodities is
growing, U.S. exporters to Greece still face several
One is increasing competition from other EU countries,
which already supply most of the imported food products
in Greece. For example, in 2004, other EU members
supplied $4.2 billion of Greece’s total of $6.2 billion
Average tariff levels also remain high, increasing
product prices. And Greece requires all labels to be in
Greek, although multi-language labels are accepted. All
Greek labeling and ingredient requirements are based on
EU rules and regulations; so Greece maintains specific
labeling and ingredient rules for some food products
under the Greek Food Code.
Additionally, some Greek importers’ awareness of the
high quality, variety, and availability of U.S. food
products remains limited. Products new to the Greek
market must also be approved first by the General
Chemical State Laboratory. Therefore, it is very
important to have an agent or joint venture partner with
access to a service network and the skills needed to
support for venture.
Despite these challenges, however, Greece is still a
growing market with good potential for U.S. exporters.
Now, U.S. exporters need to focus on innovative products
to attract Greek importers.