In 1948 the first currant processing plant opened on the Aigio waterfront and it began exporting currants to Europe along with citrus fruit and olive oil from the region.
In 1983 the cooperative became the first in Greece to successfully cultivate, package and export organic currants. Seven years later a new ultramodern plant opened at the Union’s own new installations, where the processing and export of the famed Vostitsa Corinthian Currant continues to this day.
In 1998, thanks to efforts by the Union, the special character of this currant was recognised and awarded PDO status by the EU.
The products are exported to the UK and the state of the art technology, safety and hygiene standards guarantee their impeccable quality. As the Union’s president, Thanasis Sotiropoulos, told us.
“In 1980 Greece produced 70,000 tonnes of black currants. Today, production has dropped to 25,000 tonnes, of which PES handles 60% of those grown in the Peloponnese. But most impressive of all is the fact that 95% of the crop is sent abroad. Since 1980 the Union has been the exclusive supplier to the British chain, Marks & Spencer. Our black currant’s only competition is the Soultanina raisin (from which the British word Sultana), which accounts for 70% of world production, and controls an important share of the market because it is cheaper. Greece, mainly Crete, produces about 10,000 tonnes of sultanas, whereas Turkey’s share is 300,000 tonnes per annum”.
About 200 specially trained workers are employed daily in the industrial activities of PES, while the Research & Development department is aimed both at quality control and at the discovery of new production methods and new products. At the same time its personnel conduct studies on the enhancement of dietary and nutritional characteristics of Greece’s ‘black gold’ of yesteryear.
On leaving the Union you feel that it’s one of the few enterprises in this country that represents the best of Greece abroad and which upholds the reputation of our agricultural cooperatives.