The Zante Agricultural Cooperatives Union (ZACU) achieved recognition as a Producer Organization (PO) of Class I Fruits and Vegetables (raisins) in 2004 and since 2006 it participates in the 3-year Business Plan under Regulation (EC) No 2200/96 (Articles 15 & 16) and the Implementing Regulation (EC) 1433/2003 (Articles 8, 9 & 11).
The total number of members of the Corinthian Raisin PO of the ZACU amounts 1174 producers with a total cultivated area of approximately 1,180 hectares.
2007 is the second year of implementation of the program as the overall objective is the sustainable development of the PO for the benefit of producers - members, combined with the high quality product with high added value and the proper management of natural resources and environmental protection.
The overall objective of the Operational Program is to be achieved by implementing four objectives:
- Planning the production and adapting it to demand in quantitative and qualitative terms.
- Collecting offers and selling products
- Reducing production costs and price regulation.
- The protection of the environment.
2006 ended positively for the PO and the actions carried out in the table below:
|Planning the production and adapting it to demand in quantitative and qualitative terms||Leaflets - instructions|
|Collecting offers and selling products||IT equipment|
|Reducing production costs and price regulation||Collection and drying of the product means (baskets, nets, cloths)|
The small or medium-sized black Corinthian raisin has been grown in Zakynthos with the method of natural drying since the 16th century.
The processing and packaging of raisins takes place in the raisin factory of ZACU.
Raisins are one of the most important traditional Greek products. Since the production is carried out only during the summer months, the preparation methods prove the Greek ingenuity in maintaining a product in dry form.
The Greek vineyards produce different grape varieties, which in combination with their quality have created one of the most competitive Greek products. The quality of their taste and delicate flavor are the most prominent characteristics.
Historical records indicate that the grapes have been dried in the sun to create raisins since 1490 BC but several years passed before it was determined which grape variety would make the best raisins. The Phoenicians and Armenians traded in raisins with the Greeks and Romans, and since then this fruit won their preference. The Greeks and Romans decorated their places of worship with raisins and gave them as a prize to the winners of sports competitions. The Roman healers suggested raisins as a remedy for everything, from food poisoning to aging.
With the increase in demand came the price increase. In ancient Rome two jars of raisins were exchanged with a slave.
Raisins also became popular among the famous warriors of the era. During celebrations Emperor Augustus offered his guests small roasted birds, stuffed with raisins and Hannibal fed his troops raisins while crossing the Alps.
Between 120 and 900 BC practical ways to grow the grapes that would become raisins were developed in Greece. Greece had the perfect climate for growing the grapes and soon became one of the main commercial raisin markets.
During the 11th century, knights of the Crusades originally introduced raisins in Europe when they returned from the Mediterranean. Packaging and shipping techniques had developed enough by then so that raisins could reach northern Europe.
By the 14th century the raisins were a very important part of European cuisine. Their price rocketed sky high.
The English, the French and the Germans tried to grow grapes that would become raisins, but the climate was too cold for drying the grapes.
Raisins can be eaten raw or used in cooking and baking. Research has shown that they have significant nutritional value in a healthy diet. Since they are at the top of food antioxidants, they have a positive effect on heart disease, stimulating the body to use its own cholesterol and contribute in reducing the risk of colorectal cancer.
The Greek raisin is a rich source of minerals and vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, thus constituting one more secret of Greek nutrition.
A serving of 40 grams usually contains 28 to 32 grams of sugar, much of which is in the form of fructose, and contains 110 to 140 calories. Also a serving of raisins usually contains 2 grams of fiber, and very small amounts of protein (usually 1 g), sodium (usually about 10 mg), calcium and iron. Finally, raisins contain much potassium (310 mg), corresponding to about 9% of the human body’s daily needs.