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Belussis currants: from the Peloponnese to the world

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Currants have been cultivated in Greece since Homeric times. The first written records of their trade date back to 12th century, while at the end of the 19th century their export made up a significant proportion of total Greek exports. “Currants are very rich in a variety of nutrients which are beneficial for human health. They’re used mainly in the production of sweets by bakeries and patisseries” explains John Panagiotopoulos, President of Belussis Currants.

Belussis Currants operates exclusively in the production, packaging and export of naturally sun-dried Greek black currants - also known as Corinthian raisins. The company was founded in 1906 in Pyrgos, Ilia, and remains a family business to this day. Having recently moved to a new factory in Platani, in Achaia, the company exports more than 90% of its produce all over the world, from Europe to the USA, Canada and New Zealand.

But the field of agriculture has been changing in the last few decades and Belussis Currants are not unaffected. “The biggest problem right now is the reduction in the availability of raw materials – the actual currants. 20 years ago, Greece used to produce and export 50,000 tonnes of currants. Now we barely hit twenty”, says John, who goes on to add that this shortage has led to price fluctuations and a subsequent inability to meet demand.

In 2017, the price of the currants almost doubled compared to 2015, creating a significant cashflow problem for Belussis Currants. In order to secure enough raw materials to keep up with demand, John turned to Eurobank, who extended an EU-guaranteed loan backed by EIF under the Investment Plan for Europe. “With the loan, I was able to buy enough currants to keep the business running full-speed. We avoided a slow-down in business. It gave us breathing space and allowed us to increase our working days from around 15 per month to 25” John points out.

With the shortages persisting, John sees an opportunity for the next generations: “There are fewer actors in this field today. With the crisis and so much unemployment, this is an opportunity for our youth to embrace our natural resources again and return to agriculture…” he concludes. 

Company: Belussis Currants (Greece)

Type of business: food industry

EIF financing: EaSI Guarantee Financial Instrument

Financial intermediary: Eurobank

For further information about EIF intermediaries in Ireland, please refer to: http://www.eif.org/what_we_do/where/el/index.htm


 
 

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