The century-old Agricultural Cooperative of Zagora Pelion, better known by the red apples with the trademark “ZAGORIN”, has been operating continuously since 1916. The Cooperative, bearing a strong commercial tradition of the region which was even famous for its merchant fleet, very few years later upon its establishment, it developed intense commercial activity.

The apples constitute the 95% of the products that are sold by the Cooperative. In addition to these, the Cooperative collects and trades pears, chestnut cherries, kiwis and generally small quantities of various types of tree crops available to its members.

Already before the Second World War, in addition to the central facilities it maintained on the beach of Horeftos, as the trade was carried out by sea, it also operated a product promotion branch in Piraeus, while it had designated commercial representatives in various ports of the country such as Mytilini or Rhodes . The Cooperative operates stores in the central vegetable markets of the country, since 1965 in Athens and since 1973 in Thessaloniki. This is how a wide commercial network developed and today Zagorin apples are on the shelves of all well-known chains. At the same time, in addition to their own stores in Lachanagores, there was developed a network of valuable partners – wholesalers who sell the produce.

However, the investments in the product itself are important. 70 years after its establishment, the Cooperative developed a trademark, the well-known ZAGORIN – “ZAGORIN”. Τen years later, at its 80th anniversary, it affixed a label with the trademark to each product unit, which made it the first Greek agricultural products company to give an identity to the product. Along with the well-known oval mark that began to be placed on every apple, pear, kiwi and also on all packages, in the same year, in 1996, it registered PDO for Zagora apples. In fact, at the level of the European Union, they were the first apples to receive this high-level distinction.

Although, the Cooperative is also distinguished for its commitment to cultivation techniques with the aim of product quality and the protection of growers-consumers alongside the preservation of the natural environment. The above is achieved with Techniques that are integrated into the Integrated Agricultural Production Management System and concerns all the crops of the member producers. At the same time, the complete Quality and Food Safety System for all the products it manages and markets, ensures the highest possible level of the target.

The Integrated Management System is a system for organizing an agricultural holding that includes, among others, Good Agricultural Practice, Safety and Health of Workers, Product Safety, Traceability and Environmental Actions. Its aim is a creation of a basis for the most efficient and profitable production, in an economically viable and environmentally responsible agricultural enterprise, incorporating at the same time updated and modern farming practices. Integrated crop management can be considered as a mode of agricultural production between conventional and organic farming, with the aim of fully meeting the demands of the modern consumer. In recent years, the quantities of biological production management have been gradually increasing.

The distribution of safe food in order to protect the health of the consumer is a moral responsibility and a legal obligation of A.C. Zagora and is based on a system, based on which the certain parts of the production process where risks are, are identified and controlled. In other words, a system of prevention and not repression is applied, based not on the final control but on the identification and recognition of all possible negative factors for the health of the consumer in all the post-harvest stages of production, on the analysis and assessment of the seriousness of the problems and the probability of their occurrence as well as the identification of mechanisms for their control and treatment.

The above management systems it applies are based on the requirements of the standards AGRO2, GLOBALGAP/GRASP, ISO22000, and on the private standards of Super-market chains. For the above standards, the cooperative is controlled, inspected and certified by accredited certification bodies as well as by the chains they cooperate.

The export activity of the Agricultural Cooperative of Zagora Pelion, better known by the trademark “ZΑGORIN”, began in the early 1980s. The countries to which the Cooperative has exported products throughout the years exceed 25. To enter new markets, they also use European tools, such as the co-financed programs for the promotion of branded fruit and vegetables in third countries.

In recent years, apples have been exported steadily to Egypt, Cyprus, Israel, Bulgaria and other Balkan countries, such as Romania. Egypt absorbs most of the apples for export. At the same time, almost all chestnut production is exported to Italy annually, which makes it one of the main secondary products of the Cooperative. Occasionally quantities of kiwifruit are also exported to Lebanon. Target countries remain the markets of the Arabian Peninsula.

The Agricultural Cooperative of Zagora Pelion fully controls the production process and offers guidance to its members, so that all cultivation techniques, from planting new trees to harvesting the apples, are under the supervision of the Agricultural Cooperative of Zagora Pelion. Apple selection, storage and packaging are done at the Cooperative’s facilities, which are constantly being improved.

The Agricultural Cooperative of Zagora Pelion maintains its main facilities together with storage areas, a modern sorting and packing plant/factory that allows the processing of 20,000 kgs of fruit per hour and Controlled Atmosphere (ULO) cold rooms with a capacity of 10,000,000 kgs (55,000 m3). ), in a privately owned area with a total covered area of 10,500 sq.m. In recent years, investments have been made in innovative technologies aimed at modernizing the sorting-packaging unit and the cold rooms.

The annual turnover of the Cooperative amounts to approximately 18,000,000 euros. That ranks it among the most important businesses of the Prefecture of Magnesia and employs a staff of 120-125 E.M.E. annually, while more than 50 of them are permanent staff.

In 2018, the Cooperative was registered in the National Index of Intangible Cultural Heritage, with the main focus being on the solidarity and cooperation it develops over time.

The Cooperative is constituted by 703 natural people as members and 2 legal entities to which about 100 natural people belong, therefore it directly or indirectly serves about 800 members. It is mandatory to maintain the cooperative share for at least 10 years by each registered member.

A constituent element of the Cooperative’s operation is the obligation to deliver the entire production by the members.

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