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Controversy in Italy Over New 'Olio di Roma' PGI

Half of Lazio's olive oil producer's are covered by DOP certifications and say they stand to lose value. The other half can only gain from the new proposed IGP. And some say the bickering among the groups leaves everyone disappointed.

Lazio, Italy
Aug. 10, 2018
By Daniel Dawson
Lazio, Italy

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After a bruis­ing bat­tle over the estab­lish­ment of the IGP Olio di Puglia’, the National Olive Grow­ers’ Con­sor­tium (CNO) is gear­ing up to oppose yet another appli­ca­tion for a pro­tected geo­graphic indi­ca­tion (IGP) cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.

This time the show­down is tak­ing place in Lazio, the admin­is­tra­tive region which is home to the country’s cap­i­tal. A pub­lic meet­ing was held at the Tem­ple of Hadrian in Rome last week, at which Unaprol and Op Latium made their case for an IGP Olio di Roma cer­ti­fi­ca­tion and held a pub­lic hear­ing on the mat­ter.

More than 100 munic­i­pal­i­ties have already sup­ported this ini­tia­tive which rep­re­sents a great oppor­tu­nity, espe­cially for those provinces and ter­ri­to­ries that had no chance of hav­ing a pro­tected name,” David Granieri, the pres­i­dent of Unaprol, said at the event.

Granieri and his sup­port­ers have been lob­by­ing the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture for this sta­tus for more than two years, which they argue will ben­e­fit local pro­duc­ers.

The recog­ni­tion of the denom­i­na­tion is a tool for the ben­e­fit of com­pa­nies that adds value and increases their com­pet­i­tive­ness,” Granieri said.

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Once given the ok by the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture, the request moves on to the Euro­pean Union for a final stamp of approval.

How­ever, Fab­rizio Pini, the pres­i­dent of Appo Viterbo and vice pres­i­dent of the CNO warned that the move might actu­ally harm pro­duc­ers if it is rushed to the EU too quickly.

IGP Olio di Roma could rep­re­sent a great oppor­tu­nity for the devel­op­ment of Lazio olive grow­ing,” he said in response to the meet­ing. But as it has been thought it risks becom­ing a boomerang for pro­duc­ers.”

Pini and the CNO believe that blan­ket­ing the entire region of Lazio with one IGP cer­ti­fi­ca­tion will eclipse the effects that the already-estab­lished pro­tected des­ig­na­tion of ori­gin (DOP) cer­ti­fi­ca­tions already have there.

DOP cer­ti­fi­ca­tions sig­nify that the qual­ity of a product’s prop­er­ties are deter­mined by its geo­graph­i­cal loca­tion and includes both nat­ural and human fac­tors. An IGP cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, on the other hand, indi­cates that at least one part of the process takes place in the des­ig­nated area. The lat­ter tends to cover a broader swath of ter­ri­tory than the for­mer.

This slight dif­fer­ence in def­i­n­i­tion between the two cer­ti­fi­ca­tions has Pini and the CNO con­cerned that a poten­tial IGP cer­ti­fi­ca­tion will devalue the DOP cer­ti­fi­ca­tions already in place in the region.

Pasquale Scivit­taro, a spokesman for the CNO, told Olive Oil Times that for these rea­sons the Olio di Roma IGP cer­ti­fi­ca­tion is likely to hurt some olive oil pro­duc­ers.

IGP Olio di Roma now would not be a sym­bol of qual­ity and excel­lence,” he said. There would be no cer­tainty of the ori­gin of the cul­ti­vars used [in any par­tic­u­lar oil] beyond those from Lazio, and the prices would risk a dras­tic reduc­tion.”

Cur­rently, within the admin­is­tra­tive region of Lazio there are four DOP cer­ti­fi­ca­tions: Sabina, Tus­cia, Canino and Colline Pon­tine. How­ever, there are roughly 25,000 acres of olive trees, about half of the region, that are not cov­ered by these four and there­fore do not ben­e­fit from them.

It is these out­ly­ing acres that Granieri and his sup­port­ers believe will be vastly helped by the IGP.

The goal of the IGP Olio di Roma project is to over­come the exist­ing frag­men­ta­tion and enhance the ori­gin and qual­ity of all regional pro­duc­tions,” Granieri said. An eas­ily rec­og­niz­able brand, which closely links prod­uct and ter­ri­tory, can con­sti­tute a con­crete help for com­pa­nies in the com­pe­ti­tion on the mar­ket.”

Pini and the CNO counter that they are not opposed to the idea of an IGP cer­ti­fi­ca­tion for the region, but are opposed to the chem­i­cal and pro­duc­tion stan­dards laid out in the appli­ca­tion.

We are not opposed to IGP Olio di Roma, but we ask for changes because now the pro­ce­dural guide­line has sev­eral neg­a­tive aspects for pro­duc­ers, for the qual­ity of the prod­uct and for con­sumers,” Scivit­taro said.

The CNO has a laun­dry list of demands they would like Granieri and Unaprol to adhere to before going any far­ther.

As the appli­ca­tion cur­rently stands, para­me­ters for polyphe­nols, acid­ity and per­ox­ides are lower than those of the DOP cer­ti­fi­ca­tions. The cur­rent guide­lines also call for olives to be har­vested within 48 hours, dou­ble the amount of time allot­ted by the DOP stan­dards.

Per­haps most affron­tive to the CNO was the stip­u­la­tion that only 70 per­cent of the olives for an IGP Olio di Roma-cer­ti­fied bot­tle would need to come from the region, mean­ing the rest could come from any­where else.

“[We pro­posed] an increase of at least 80 per­cent of oil com­ing from cul­ti­vars from Lazio region, the remain­ing 20 per­cent must come from Ital­ian cul­ti­vars and it must be spec­i­fied in the pro­ce­dural guide­line,” Scivit­taro said. How­ever, now the pro­ce­dural guide­line states that 70 per­cent of oil must come from Lazio and 30 per­cent of oil from other cul­ti­vars, with­out spec­i­fy­ing the ori­gin.”

You could use, for exam­ple, Span­ish cul­ti­vars and this is not absolutely good,” he added. The CNO wants all of this to be changed or, Sciv­i­tarro said, they would for­mally peti­tion both the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture and EU to reject the appli­ca­tion.

Nei­ther Granieri nor Unaprol responded to mul­ti­ple requests for an inter­view for this arti­cle. How­ever, there are still two weeks left for them to address the griev­ances of the CNO before the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture passes the appli­ca­tion along to the EU.

Some observers of the indus­try are tired of these fights between com­pet­ing spe­cial inter­ests groups. Luigi Car­i­cato is the edi­tor of Olio Offic­ina Mag­a­zine and sees these fights as cycli­cal. He believes they will con­tinue to hap­pen and every­one involved will come away with a dis­ap­point­ing result. He pointed to the row over IGP Olio di Puglia as an exam­ple of this.

Exclud­ing them all and leav­ing the man­age­ment [of these cer­ti­fi­ca­tions] to totally unre­lated fig­ures, leav­ing the respon­si­bil­ity of all deci­sions to an extra­or­di­nary com­mis­sioner and a staff of free and inde­pen­dent experts [could fix the prob­lem],” he wrote in an edi­to­r­ial. But per­haps that is just a dream.”





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