Monday, August 12, 2013

Unanswered Questions

I read that Greek unemployment has increased once again. At the same time, I read that Greek tourism, a very major part of the total economy, is having a record season this year. I am puzzled how that can be.

Today, I joined my wife shopping at our local Aldi-store ('Hofer' in Austria). For the first time I noticed that, in the fruit/produce department, they show the country of origin for each product. I was amazed at the 'internationality' of the fresh fruit/produce on offer: Hungary, Holland, Turkey, Spain, Italy, South Africa, Peru - and so forth. There was no fresh fruit/produce from Greece.

I found a few Greek products in the section with canned foods (octopus, etc.). Produced by a company in the Industrial Park of Kilkis. I had visited that Park not too long ago and thought it was an industrial cemetary. Now I know that there is at least one producing company there.

It beats me, though, why there wasn't any Greek fruit/produce. When we live in Greece, I essentially live on Greek fruit/produce from the Laikí. There is no way that one can get the same flavor when one makes the same salads with the same products purchased in Austria.

Why in the world wouldn't Austrian supermarket shelves be full with Greek fruit/produce?


  1. This is an issue that puzzles me. In the industrialized west, people are spending less on food than (say) fuel for their motorcars or other delights.

    Because whilst Greek fruit looks and tastes great, getting it to Austria is possibly more expensive. Most people look at price when it comes to food - it is seen as a fuel. The proliferation of Aldis and Niedriger Preis instead of Plus and Edeka is part of this. I know from my own experience that buying quality food means better flavor - not always as sometimes you're only buying a better class of tin. Sometimes just choosing a better supermarket means better quality - Plus is better than Albert Heijn, and way better than Aldi. What's more the prices they charge are all but the same - albeit for the same quality level. That is to say the local bread at Plus is way better than Albert Heijn yet the price is the same.

    Plus, if you want real flavor, you do have to grow your own salad vegetables.

    Advertising has had no small part to play in this. People aren't sure about what tastes nice - just as they aren't sure if they're totally well unless cleared by their doctor. I mean, shouldn't it be the other way around? That they only use their doctor when feeling unwell?

    What a strange world to live in.

    More to the point is does the money they save get spent on a Greek holiday ;-)

    1. Why in the world wouldn't Austrian supermarket shelves be full with Greek fruit/produce?

      Perhaps because there isn't a Greek in Austria with the wit, resources, skills, chutzpah to set up a business to import the produce. Most businesses engaged in importing are owned and operated by people with deep contacts with the country from which they're importing.

      This week my corner shop had cherries in the middle of winter! They were imported from Central Valley, California, I noticed that the name of the grower on the box was the same as that of my neighbour. The shop owner is Lebanese, so is my neighbour - I would not be at all surprised if the importer was also Lebanese.

      Most trade is conducted via networks of people with similar backgrounds.


    2. I've often seen conflicting news about the Greek tourism sector, sometimes on the same day in the same publication.

      Greek tourism should be having a good season, two of its major competitors have been no-go zones for a couple of years now - Egypt and Syria. And the other one - Turkey - was also looking shaky for a while.

      I was puzzled by one comment I read - Russian tourists 'naturally' go to Thessaloniki.


    3. They 'fly' to Thessaloniki but they 'go' to the beaches of Chalkidiki. Lots of cheap Russian tourism there (menus in Russian!). Some rich ones who own hotels and palaces.