Recently in Greece
The history of bananas in Greece dates back to 1988. Before then, the import of bananas was restricted in Greece since there was a governmental preferential law.
After the partial ban removal in 1988 import of bananas begun from ACP countries and especially from Santa Lucia (Windward Islands) and then from Somalia with packages of small boxes of 14 kgs each. Moreover, we were the exclusive shipping agent of the vessels, discharging the fruit, clearing them through the customs and forwarding it to the clients all over Greece.
About two years later (1990) the dollar zone countries were allowed to export bananas to European countries, so the banana companies started to import bananas from South (Latin) America. Countries of origin were Panama, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and others. The boxes were larger and almost 19-20 kgs each. The discharging port was Patras which was used to ditch the vessels with lots of difficulties. The cargo was transported by reefer vessels, initially packed loosely in boxes inside the vessels’ hatches. Then they started to bring them on pallets.
Despite the fact that there were three unions of laborers and the port was big enough, we could only ditch a limited quantity per shift, and there were a lot of state-owned and bureaucratic problems. As a result, Kostas Karlos had the brilliant idea to transfer the activity to Aegion port, a small port to the direction to Athens at which the largest domestic fruit market is located. There the laborers’ union stood up for the challenge, cooperating more effectively and working in more than one shifts. So they became experts to the fruit handling, as this unique fruit is very delicate and needs special treatment.
Aegion glory time
This small but pretty manageable port became particularly famous for its efficiency in discharging cargoes with speed and safety. The procedures were easy to implement as this small port had no traffic and it was much more flexible in comparison to the big ports that they had time-consuming berthing, expensive port calls and a lot of different service providers that were mixing and confusing
the process. Aegion had none of these problems, and it looked ideal for discharging and controlling bananas. It was a bared port, but it was an excellent idea.
The people there trusted our vision and offered maximum freedom to operate and elaborate this idea into something tangible.