The members of the newly set-up Association of Greek Rice Mills are determined to win the challenge of promoting high-quality Greek rice abroad, creating a strong brand name and operating as an umbrella both for producers and for business activity in the sector, said Euricom Hellas President and CEO Georgia Kostinaki, the head of the Association.
Speaking to Athens-Macedonian News Agency, Kostinaki said the Association brings together 15 rice mills, which process around 90 pct of Greek rice production.
“The time has come, with collectivity and mutual efforts, to defend our interests and to create a strong brand name. Greek rice has the best quality in Europe but this is not a well-known fact. The challenge we have ahead is to promote it throughout the world,” Kostinaki said. She added that the situation in the sector in the last few years has worsened, due to the economic crisis in Greece and external factors. Greece has lost markets, such as northern Greece, which import rice directly from third countries such as Myanmar and Cambodia because of duty-free trade agreements signed with the EU, Kostinaki noted and added: “It is imperative for Greece to have a voice in European agencies in order to highlight the problems of rice production in the country”.
Kostinaki added that markets in the Middle East look primarily to Italy and Portugal for rice supplies, considering Greek rice to be of lower quality “which is wrong and we must reverse immediately”. She stressed that rice production in Greece was limited with respect to the number of rice varieties cultivated and that exports focused mostly in Turkey. Kostinaki underlined the need to expand rice production in the country to meet the demands of new markets and stressed that one of the biggest problem of the sector was a very high funding cost “which is at least triple compared with other EU countries.”