After several years of economic turmoil and despite being a small market of only 10 million consumers, Greece is now living a business renaissance, where imports of food and drinks play a vital role in the country`s financial recovery. As a high-income economy, based on the service and the industrial sector, as well as a tourist hotspot and gateway to more than 100 million consumers in Southeastern Europe, Greece all year round a dynamic market, with a high appetite for food and beverages imports.
Market perks and best prospects
Imports needed to meet consumers` demand
Despite a vast range of consumables produced domestically, including fruit, sugar beets, olives, and cereal grains, which are in turn exported to EU countries, Greece`s agriculture remains hindered by reduced farmland and low levels of rainfall.
Additionally, the population`s migration from the rural to the urban landscape, where over half of the citizens reside in Athens and Thessaloniki, has lead the food and beverages retail sector already reliant on imports, to further develop and significantly increase food imports to meet the consumers demand, be it exotic fruits, offseason fruits, dairy products, cheese or meats, especially beef.
As a net agricultural importer, with a high demand for a variety of raw materials, foods, and beverages, Greece is importing more than it exports, to keep the market fully supplied all year round, to sustain the consumers demand.
A shift towards affordability & diversity
Despite being the largest economy in the Balkans, Greece is still affected by the consequences of the economic crisis, which has made consumers very aware of price and value when it comes to their food basket, but the emergence of a consumer society also created increased shelf diversity in new, imported products. Money conscious, Greeks have also reduced their frequency of dining out and consequently their eating choices, increasing the demand for convenient products like snacks or ready to eat meals, as well as innovative, healthy food options for the ageing population and the Mediterranean diet trend followers.
On the other side, despite reducing their food outings, dining out with friends or family is still part of the Greek cultural milieu, especially during hot summers or wintertime, when people visit cafes to warm up. Besides the local cuisine which is the dominant choice, consumers also increasingly demand premium, gourmet and ethnic dishes from foreign restaurants and fast food outlets.
Tourism, food processing & feed sector influence
As a country embedded with a rich cultural heritage and situated at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and Africa, Greece is annually showing record-breaking tourist arrivals, reaching from 24 million visitors in 2015 to 34 million arrivals in 2019, making the nation one of the top tourism destinations in the world.
Although influenced by seasonality which boosts the profitability of HORECA and retail sales, international tourism is one of the high-income sources of the country, contributing by 25% to the nation’s GDP. Boosted by the residents` healthy diet, local cuisine, religious traditions and tourists visits, fish and seafood remain one of the best food categories to import to the Greek food market.
Another opportunity for exporters to enter the Greek food market comes with supplying the food and feed processing industries, which are well developed and require a wide range of ingredients, from tree nuts like almonds, pistachios, or walnuts, meats, milk, dairy products, cereal products and confectionary items, to soybeans for animal feed.
Retail & trade climate
With over 15,000 food businesses, Greece is a well-rounded sales and distribution channel for its food and beverages market which is continuously growing due to consumer confidence and demand for innovation, as well as the competition between market players and the online environment.
Modern grocery retailers dominate due to a wider range of products available, loyalty incentives, and promotional offers, while smaller, traditional grocery stores remain important for offering the convenience of proximity, especially since there`s a trend switch from cart to basket.
A good option for pursuing business in Greece is to connect to local business players that can provide further insight and guidance. Food imported to Greece is handled usually by Greek importers, distributors, and agents who supply the market, usually with exclusive sales rights. In general, Greek food importers like to attend international trade shows to network and meet new suppliers. With increased consumers` awareness of food safety, they are very attentive to the product`s traceability and quality.
It is important to note that as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the European Union (EU), Greece follows EU trade and sale regulations, and further special requirements for imports from third countries. The country`s main food and beverage suppliers are the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Bulgaria as well as non-EU suppliers like Russia, Turkey or Brazil. At the same time, situated at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa, Greece serves as a bridge for entering the markets of Southeast Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean.
3 Food Importers from Greece:
Pili Ethnic Food Market
Address: 62 Martyron Av, Heraklion, Heraklion, Greece
Phone: +30 281 037 0577
La Tienda Greece
Address: Alonissou & Samis 15, Gerakas, Attica, Greece
Phone: +30 21 0751 5740
Address: 2 Trypia & Irinis Av. Pefki, Attica, Greece
Phone: +30 21 0612 0090
To get access to a list of more active food importers from Greece, you can access one of the BestFoodImporters databases.