Greek Court Rules Kalamon Olives May Use Kalamata Brand

The supreme court rejected an appeal by Messenia-based growers that only they could use the Kalamata branding, an appellation worth €200 million in exports.
Kalamata olives
By Costas Vasilopoulos
Apr. 30, 2024 15:34 UTC

The Greek Council of State, the country’s supreme court, has dis­missed an appeal by pro­duc­ers from Messenia against a 2022 min­is­te­r­ial decree that equated the terms Kalamon’ and Kalamata.’

The rul­ing effec­tively frees the use of Kalamata’ – named after the admin­is­tra­tive region on the south of the Peloponnese penin­sula – for all pro­duc­ers of Kalamon table olives in the coun­try.

Until 2018, only pro­duc­ers based in Messenia could mar­ket their Kalamata olives under the name Kalamata, com­ple­mented by the Protected Designation of Origin cer­ti­fi­ca­tion obtained in 1996. Olives of the same cul­ti­var grown in other regions were mar­keted only as Kalamon olives.’

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With min­is­te­r­ial decrees issued in 2018 and 2022, the Greek state reg­is­tered Kalamata olives on the national list of plant vari­eties as syn­ony­mous with the Kalamon cul­ti­var, allow­ing pro­duc­ers of the table olive vari­ety through­out the coun­try to pro­mote their Kalamon olives under the Kalamata brand name.

While the 2018 decree was over­turned after an appeal by Messenian pro­duc­ers who pre­vi­ously had exclu­sive use of the Kalamata name, the Supreme Court rejected another appeal against the 2022 decree.

The court ruled that Kalamata’ can legally coex­ist with the PDO Kalamata olives,’ end­ing a long-last­ing con­tro­versy over using the cov­eted Kalamata name, which has divided the country’s table olives sec­tor for years.

Today is a his­toric day for the table olives sec­tor and the coun­try, as it is a day of vin­di­ca­tion for thou­sands of Greek olive grow­ers and pro­cess­ing, stan­dard­iz­ing and export­ing com­pa­nies of the prod­uct,” the Panhellenic Association of Manufacturers, Packers and Exporters of Table Olives (Pemete) said in an announce­ment fol­low­ing the court’s deci­sion.

After 20 years of patience and efforts of the country’s export­ing com­pa­nies… the coun­cil pro­vided a fair solu­tion that allows the simul­ta­ne­ous cir­cu­la­tion of the Kalamata’ and Kalamata PDO’ names,” they added.

Messenia accounts for around three per­cent of the Kalamon olives pro­duced in the coun­try. In con­trast, the most sig­nif­i­cant quan­ti­ties are pro­duced in west­ern Greece and spo­rad­i­cally in other regions.

The lib­er­al­iza­tion of the Kalamata name will allow Kalamon olive pro­duc­ers across Greece to earn more from their table olive exports due to the global recog­ni­tion of the Kalamata appel­la­tion.

However, the Messenian pro­duc­ers have argued that dan­ger looms for Kalamon grow­ers abroad to usurp the term Kalamata,’ impact­ing Greek pro­duc­ers.

Essentially, the 2022 decree not only allows Kalamon olive pro­duc­ers in Greece to mar­ket their olives as Kalamata, but it also allows all pro­duc­ers of Kalamon olives on the planet to mar­ket their Kalamon olives as Kalamata olives in the European mar­ket,” Yiannis Pazios, the head of the asso­ci­a­tion in sup­port of Messenia PDO olive pro­duc­ers, told local media.

He added, It has cre­ated a back door that allows imported Kalamon olives from other coun­tries to be traded as Kalamata olives, which will result in a reduc­tion in the product’s price.”

With an aver­age annual pro­duc­tion of 85,000 to 100,000 tons, Kalamon/Kalamata table olives are a lead­ing export prod­uct of Greece, worth around €200 mil­lion a year.

In addi­tion, Greek exports of the Kalamon and other table olive vari­eties, such as the Chalkidiki and the Amfissis, exhibit rel­a­tive immu­nity to pro­duc­tion fluc­tu­a­tions, main­tain­ing or some­times even increas­ing their share in inter­na­tional mar­kets.

Although in the 2023/24 crop year, the coun­try’s pro­duc­tion of table olives totaled only 110,000 tons due to reduced fruit­ing of the trees, a 66 per­cent drop com­pared to the pre­vi­ous crop year, data from the International Olive Council showed that Greek exports of table olives reached 195,000 tons in 2023, an increase of 13 per­cent com­pared to 2022.


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