Export growth is a key factor in the recovery of the Greek economy. Greek products of high production quality and nutritional value must show their comparative advantages in order to gain the recognition and reputation that is right for them both in the internal market and in third countries. This implies quality standards for raw materials, compliance with safety regulations (ISO, HACCP, etc.), international certificates such as IFS, BRC or other certificates required by modern purchasing mechanisms, modern and practical packaging as well as a multilingual label. In addition, the agricultural sector needs to turn to new crops, organic crops and certified PDO & PGI products. By combining the above, businesses will gain a better export profile, leading to the actual production process, job creation, increasing the national wealth, that is, the development of our country.
However, efforts to establish a product abroad do not stop there. Great importance should be given to national branding, which in exports is as important as what is actually produced and sold. Good image increasingly influences market decision (through emotions) and countries acquire “brand value” (e.g. Made in Greece). The enhancement of the image of Greek products and services can act as leverage for the entry of Greek products to the foreign chains operating in our country. To create national branding, it is essential to coordinate at the national level all those involved in extroversion, including the tourism sector.
The Agro-Food Partnership of the Region of Crete with the brand “CRETE” made a similar effort at the regional level. The CRETE brand is an additional trademark of the individual brands of the company that certifies that the product is of Cretan origin and adheres to the strict production, packaging, storage and transport rules set by the Agro-Food Partnership for the acquisition of the mark.
The evolution of the image of agricultural products is most responsible for the steady increase in Greek exports. The strengthening of the agricultural sector with targeted promotional activities of the sector, which will be funded by strict criteria from Greece and Europe, will help increase export rates by bringing the desired results to the Greek economy.
At the same time, there should be special programs to enhance the liquidity of export enterprises and finance extroversion actions through the new development law, with a corresponding weighting based on the export percentage of the total turnover. It is essential to diffuse and disseminate European export programs based on the actual productive structure of the country and indirect funding through tax exemptions for research and technological development expenditure. The elimination of the bureaucracy of local tax offices for the refund of export VAT is an incentive for export enterprises.
Crete as a regional pole of export development has played an important role in enhancing Greek extroversion. Also, as a gastronomic agrotouristic destination, it contributes a large part of the total percentage of the agricultural sector per year. However, it should not be remembered that Crete is not just a region of agricultural exports. The island is home to leading companies manufacturing and processing industrial products, such as plastics, with global export action. Some of these companies’ products are globally patented and incorporate innovative ideas, applied to the production process to the benefit of the end user.
The Exporters Association of Crete (EAC) seeks to unify the stakeholders in Crete, in order to amplify the potential regional characteristics of the island. This proposal can also be a model for the other regions of Greece.
Coordinated regional level promotional efforts will positively influence and add value to the promotion of Greek products abroad. Promoting products with the tools of Regional Marketing is an established practice of the Exporters’ Association of Crete. The model of exhibiting with a unified profile —as Region of Crete— and the coordinated presence of Cretan enterprises has been successfully implemented by EAC at major international food and beverage exhibitions (ANUGA, SIAL, GULFOOD, FANCY FOOD etc) attracting a large number of business associates interested in Cretan Products.
Continuous flow of information, exchange of views, with a unique focus on the development of extroversion of export companies and the promotion of Cretan products to foreign markets, is a daily goal of the Exporters’ Association of Crete. During its 23 years of operation, EAC has successfully organized efforts to promote Cretan products to foreign markets supported the establishment of the traditional Cretan diet in the daily lives of foreign consumers. We are constantly seeking opportunities for new business transactions to promote Cretan exporters and to strengthen the island’s export trade profile.
Developing export strategies, focusing on the distinct advantages and qualities of all the products of each region, is a big job, but we, at EAC, with our limited resources have proved that if there is will (i.e.vision and persistence) there is a way and our vision can become a reality.
The Exporters’ Association of Crete – EAC, one of the most dynamic regional associations in Greece, is already in the 23rd year constantly standing by the needs of the exporters of Crete. Its work is undoubtedly well known and recognized by all those involved in export trade. Currently, there are 160 Cretan exporting member companies.