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Greece needs to build on its strengths…

Greek Civilisation led the world in philosophy, architecture and culture. They lasted 5000 years before the Euro and will certainly exist beyond it. Pre-euro Greece seemed quite content and (despite being prolific smokers) they had one of the longest life expectancies in Europe, ergo, the world. 

One thing I remember about island hopping in the drachma era was the food and the beer. OK, the beer was imported - from Germany, ironically - and was astonishingly cheap. 

Greece has some of the greatest food products in the world (the stats below will back this up). Whatever happens, the sun will shine and the olives will grow.

So what about now? A McKinsey 2012 report - “Greece Ten Years Ahead” - set out a blueprint for a new National Growth Model for Greece and includes passages such as this:

"Greece has significant potential to increase its output, boost exports and contain imports, especially in four major high-potential categories, namely oils & fats, fruits & vegetables, dairy, and bakery products"

But it’s not about the output – as anyone in food manufacturing knows, it’s the added value and the market exposure.

McKinsey again:

“… Greece is the 3rd largest olive oil producer worldwide and exports 60% of its output to Italy in bulk, yet in doing so allows Italy to capture an extra 50% premium on the price of the final packaged product. The fact that Greece holds only a 28% of the global 'Greek Feta' cheese market and 30% of the US 'Greek Style' yogurt markets, further reinforces a clear commercial opportunity for Greece.”   

If I were a Greek entrepreneur, instead of looking at airlines and shipping, I’d be looking at those stats with great interest.

Scott Hutchinson is the Principal for Food & Drink at Interim Partners.

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