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Greece, Japan move to expand commercial relations

Greece and Japan are moving to broaden their commercial ties, building on the two country’s long friendship and their shared dominance in world maritime trade.

Celebrating more than 120 years of diplomatic relations, Greece and Japan are the world’s two leading ship owning nations and share common interests extending to every facet of maritime trade and beyond.

Greek maritime equipment suppliers have been expanding their presence in Japan, and Greek ship owners turn to Japanese shipyards for their most technically sophisticated ships. Currently, there are more than 15 Japanese maritime businesses represented in Greece.

Both nations face the challenge of new international rules on shipping emissions. And both are at the forefront of the fast growing field of logistics: a sector that Japanese businesses pioneered and where Greece is now emerging as a regional hub for southeast Europe.

Deputy Foreign Minister Kostas FragogiannisIn a visit to Japan in late January, Deputy Foreign Minister Kostas Fragogiannis underscored that the strong ties in the maritime sector could be expanded into other areas. Japan is already a fast growing market for Greek exports – and is set to grow further under the recent European Union-Japan Economic
Partnership Agreement – while a Japanese delegation visited Greece last year to examine business opportunities in the hi-tech sector.

Greece is also keen to attract more Japanese visitors and businesses as it develops its tourism sector. Over the next years, Greece is poised to make significant investments on nautical tourism, including cruise and yachting tourism.


Greek - Food and Beverage exports growing

Greek - Wine exports to Japan are up 66% in 2017, from 482,000 euro in 2016, slated to pass 1,000,000 euro in 2018.  

Greek food and beverage producers continue to lead the countrys export boom, reflecting the growing export orientation of a sector long viewed as one of the countrys most competitive industries.

With its quality Mediterranean produce, Greeces 750 food and beverage companies account for more than one-third of the countrys total manufacturing output, while F&B exports have grown by almost 50% since the start of the crisis. Overall, Greek exports are up 15% so far this year, compared with last year.

The industry has been undergoing a transformation-refocussing its efforts on markets abroad, as it goes through a restructuring at home. 

At this years Anuga 2017 fair in Germany, the worlds leading F&B trade exhibition, the number of Greek companies taking part jumped sharply, with 160 Greek companies exhibiting at the Greek national pavilion.

Next year, Greece will be the honoured country at the Summer Fancy Food Show, one of the largest F&B exhibitions in North America, taking place in New York in June 2018. 

Two years ago, Greece was the honored country at the 2015 Anuga fair.
Meanwhile in Greece, the sector is restructuring with leading businesses consolidating and new investors entering the industry.

Currently, the French bank Lazard is in the process of selling a 75% stake in Greeces two biggest aquaculture companies, while foreign investors have shown significant interest in investing in the countrys baked goods sector.

Greece΄s  food and beverage industry represents a dynamic, competitive and export oriented sector with significant investments and business activities in Greece, the Balkans and all of Europe, according to a recent report by the Foundation for Economic & Industrial Research. Despite the years of crisis, the sector has shown it remains a basic lever of economic growth.


Greek honey products

Greece’s honey producers – building on a tradition stretching back three and-a-half millennia – are seeing growing recognition and exports even as bee cultures worldwide come increasingly under threat from environmental pressures.

Recent data show that Greek honey exports have been rising at double digit rates in select European markets, like France. While at the 2019 London Honey Awards last spring, Greek honey producers took home 17 awards, including three of five platinum awards.

Almost all Greek honey, around 80%, comes from bees that forage off wild, not cultivated, plants. Combined with the country’s rich and varied flora -- there are at least 120 different flowering plants and trees that provide fodder for Greek bees – Greece produces a wide variety of different and unique types of honey: pine, fir and chestnut honey, orange-blossom and flower-blossom honey, heather and thyme honey.

With its long tradition in apiculture, Greece has the highest density of bee colonies in Europe with 11.4 colonies per square kilometer.


Greece΄s 250 distilleries export 70% of their production

Traditional Greek spirits – ouzo, tsipouro, raki and mastiha – are gaining worldwide recognition as the country’s bars and restaurants add inventive new cocktails to their menus and garner international accolades.

In July, international lifestyle guide Time Out named the Aegean Negroni – a new drink pioneered at a downtown Athens bar – as the best cocktail in the world, outranking competitors from Milan to Mexico City.

The distinction is one of several awarded to Greek bars recently for what the magazine describes as a Cocktailrevolution in Greece with local mixologists turning to traditional Greek spirits, herbs and flavors to create new drinks.

The distinctive Greek distillates, which have PDO protection, are produced from the pomace remaining after pressing grapes for wine, making them similar to Italian grappa. As with wine, each region lends its own unique characteristics to its spirits. The island of Lesvos is famed for its ouzo; Crete for its raki and tsikoudia; and Epirus for its tsipouro. Mastiha-flavored spirits are a specialty of Chios, where the unique trees producing the prized resin are grown.

Greek exports continue to support the countrys economy with total exports in the first half of 2017 almost a fifth higher than they were a year ago. According to official data, Greek exports rose 18.2% to 14.2 billion euro in the first six months of the year, compared with 12 billion euro last year.

The increase has been broad based, with Greek exports for food, raw materials, minerals and refined petroleum products, chemicals and other industrial goods all rising.

Fellow European Union members remain Greece biggest export market, accounting for just over half of the countrys exports.

But neighboring countries in the Middle East and North Africa are among the fastest growing, and combined accounting for roughly a sixth of Greek exports.


Greek Stevia Producers Take Lead in Europe

Greek stevia producers are taking a leading role in the world’s fast growing natural sweeteners market with the construction of Europe’s first stevia processing facility.

The €8 million project, located near the town of Lamia in central Greece, follows major inroads by the industry in recent years, including the adoption of stevia by beverage giant Coca-Cola and Greek soft-drink exporter Green Cola. The facility uses locally-developed, patented technology to achieve extraordinarily high levels of purity.

Derived from a plant species native to Brazil and Paraguay, stevia has been used as a natural sweetener by indigenous peoples of the region for centuries. But its use in international markets has exploded in the last decade following regulatory approval in the U.S. and the European Union as a food additive.

According to PureCircle, a leading, Chicago-based producer of stevia, the global stevia market has been growing at a 9.5% cumulative average rate in the last two years and is expected to reach $771.5 million by 2022.

In 2011, Greek stevia growers, along with industry experts and agronomists, established the Stevia Hellas Cooperative to export Greek stevia to world markets.