Turmoil in Thessaly: Greece’s Feta Crisis Following Devastating Floods
Unforeseen Consequences: The Impact of Floods on Thessaly’s Dairy Industry
Recent destructive weather conditions in Thessaly, Greece, have led to significant damage to the dairy industry, raising concerns over the potential increase in the price of one of the country’s most cherished products – feta cheese. Thessaly accounts for about 40% of the nation’s sheep and goat farming, which provides the milk necessary for producing feta. The devastating floods have caused significant damage to this industry, with initial approximations predicting a decrease in feta production by 10-15%.
As of now, feta cheese prices range from 13 to 16 euros per kilo. However, due to the anticipated decrease in production, the price is predicted to exceed 20 euros per kilo. Although feta can be produced in other regions, Thessaly is renowned for its high yield of raw materials and cheese products, making it a vital contributor to the country’s feta production.
Recovery Challenges: The High Price of Rebuilding
The floods’ impact has resulted in the loss of thousands of sheep and goats, meaning that feta production will be reduced until the shortfall is covered. However, the recovery is not guaranteed, as the cost for a medium-sized livestock unit with 400 sheep is at least 200,000 euros.
Panagiotis Peveretos, President of SEK, has stated that the damage to livestock in Thessaly will initially affect prices, but not significantly. He predicts that production will recover within two months despite the enormous loss in livestock. However, he also warned against those selling feta at 12.5 euros per kilo, doubting that the price will reach 20 euros per kilo.
Price Increase and Consumer Behavior
According to Peveretos, the significant increase in prices will lead to a drastic reduction in consumption. Even at price levels of 15-16 euros per kilo, demand is expected to decline. It is anticipated that households will switch to cheaper alternatives like white cheeses produced from cow’s milk. Feta exports are currently valued at around 650 million euros. The total annual production of feta is around 144,000 tons, with approximately 90,000 tons exported abroad.
The PDO Designation: A Guarantee of Quality and Tradition
To be designated PDO (Protected Designation of Origin), a cheese must meet certain criteria. It must be produced and matured within a strictly predetermined geographical area, and the raw material from which it is derived must also come from the same area. No chemical additives can be used during its production, and it must be made using traditional techniques under natural conditions.
Greece has a plethora of cheeses that can be consumed in various ways to satisfy the tastes of even the most demanding consumers. In addition to feta, Greece has protected 23 other names of cheeses, according to the latest data.
While the situation in Thessaly is undoubtedly distressing, it serves as a stark reminder of the delicacy of food production and the impact that unforeseen circumstances can have on industries. As Greece navigates its way through this crisis, the global consumer market will be watching closely, hoping for a swift recovery for the sake of feta lovers worldwide.
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