“New infrastructures for the transport by air of cargo should be created so as fresh products reach foreign countries in a day” underlined in an interview to “In-On” magazine Mr. Manolis Kougiumutzis vice-president of the Pan-European Association of Cretans, Secretary General of the International Council of Cretans and chairman of the Association of the Cretans in Munich.
It has to be noticed that the products of Crete –he stressed– are already known for their quality and contribution to healthy diet. However, they need support to develop. According to the aims of the International Council of Cretans “it is necessary to focus on the exports of the Cretan products in emerging markets such as in China (important agreements have already been signed regarding olive oil export to China) and India whose role is of vital importance in the developments in South-East Asia, along with countries from Latin America, mainly Brazil and then Argentina and Uruguay that preserve long-term bonds with Greece”.
He also said that «In order to achieve all these benefits the chairman of the International Council Cretans along with the whole council work on a medium-term and flexible scheme. This scheme could bring the Cretan Associations all around the Globe closer together along with the Central Government in Greece, the Local Government in Crete and the audience we focus on. However, is it absolutely important to plan events in international metro poles such as London, Paris, Brussels, Rome, Frankfurt, New York, Melbourne, Toronto as well as emerging centers like Moscow, Warsaw, Buenos Aires or Beijing. These events should be accompanied by a projection of audio-lingual material based on Crete, by printing material (probably with a complete yet concise guide-book on Crete) and through talks in a conference form in which eminent academics, politicians and local authorities participate. Moreover, reports on the various and different choices that Crete offers as a tourist destination should not be ignored, starting from the polymorph of its natural environment and concluding to the value of Cretan Diet and the alternative suggestions that differentiate Crete from any other tourist destination».
Question: Which is the plan of the Cretan Associations in order to support the enterprises on the island because of the economic crisis?
Answer: The Cretan Associations can contribute to the development of the relative advantages of our island not only regarding their localization, but also to their elevation and exploitation.
As a benchmark example I would put forward “Cretan Diet”.
Through the promotion of Cretan Dietary Habits and the products of the island, the Cretan Associations are in accordance with their articles since they promote Crete and Cretan culture. It is a fact that the consumers who prefer Cretan products come closer to the habits of the island while at the same time special conditions are created to become constant customers not only regarding the tourist product but also the agricultural products of Crete. It is absolutely important that the products of Crete attract constant customers because after the abolition of the subsidy schemes in 2013, Cretan products will be subject to cruel competition on behalf of relative products from the Third World countries that demonstrate low production cost.
Question: How fast can the exports of the Cretan products reach the rest of the European countries without losing their quality?
Answer: Crete is well-known in Europe for the fresh products, the wines and generally for the eating habits of its inhabitants.
The big store chains require products that contribute to the healthy diet of their customers. The big organizations for the protection of the environment have turned people’s beliefs into the use of biological or ecological products. My suggestion to the producers is: produce pure products free from chemicals. These products can come from ecologically-type cultivations having a fixed quality, packed in small quantities inside environmentally-friendly packages.
We also have to preserve the ancient varieties of the Cretan wines such as “Dafni”, Vintiano, Plyto etc. and not cultivate only Cabernet i Chardonay, which is the case today.
The European consumers are willing to pay even more if we persuade them that this very product was cultivated in Crete, moreover, it is pure having natural ingredients that help preserve their health.
Truly, these products are by nature fresh and have to be delivered as fast as possible to the customers. They have to be fresh and that makes the difference and not as usual when the “Cretan products are exported abroad a week later”.
For this reason, transport of the cargo by air should be organized. The distance from Crete to the Central European Market is long (2.5000 km and more). We should plan the organization of the air transportation and cooperate with countries that have already achieved that in order to draw the necessary facts that reassure the best result.
Question: What sort of infrastructure is needed in Crete so as to export products?
Answer: The infrastructures for the transport of the cargo by air should be realized close to the production and packaging areas of our Cretan products. There have to be specially-formulated units to receive the products and within a short time span on the very day be exported by air to European countries. According to the data that I received by the Export Statistical Office it becomes obvious that the field of foods is the first in the exports at 65%.
In the second position there is the field of chemicals and plastics at 15, 5% having products that monopolize the environment and depend on the oil price. The field of Textile and Clothing comes third with a percentage of 6%, with extremely low development margins due to the globalization of the market including the competition that comes from the Chinese products.
The field of foodstuff has made us already known while there are high development margins.
It has to be noted here that almost 50% of the Greeks living in Germany as well as in the rest of the European countries directly or indirectly deal with the field of gastronomy. Cretan restaurant-owners and generally food merchants in Germany are more than 800 most of who are settled in the states of Rinanias, Bedis Bitemvergis και Babarias.
All the above are the best ambassadors and advertisers of the Cretan products and Crete in general. We wish to assure that the Greek Associations in Europe care and try hard to promote us. We aim at offering Cretan wines at our events. Still, we try to influence importers and caterers as much as we can to include Cretan products in their lists.
Question: Greece needs support regarding tourism from the Greeks abroad; is there a response to the call of the Minister of Tourism?
Answer: As far as the recent call of the Minister that regards the support on tourism from the Greeks abroad I only have to complete that “we do nothing else than reflect, advertize and urge our German friends to visit Greece. We wholeheartedly support it then”.
Manolis Kougiumutzis is the vice-president of the Pan-European Association of Cretans, Secretary General of the International Council of Cretans and chairman of the Association of the Cretans in Munich.
He was born in 1956 in Levadia of Mylopotamos in the prefecture of Rethymnon in Crete and studied at the School of Tourism in Herakleion. In Germany he graduated from the School of Hotel Assistants specialized in the knowledge of food.
He worked for 10 years for the SERATON Company being responsible for the direction of the restaurant in Munich.
In 1990, he set up a restaurant in Munich and also runs the “Alpha Guibh” company. This company consults enterprises on tourism concerning gastronomy whereas he undertakes receptions and also trades olive oil.
Today, he runs two restaurants in Munich and lives in Munich in Germany since 1980.
Source of publication 10th edition In-On