`Row Over Kalamata PDO Divides Opinions in Greece


Row Over Kalamata PDO Divides Opinions in Greece

Apr. 20, 2020
Costas Vasilopoulos

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The Greek deputy min­is­ter of agri­cul­ture stirred up con­tro­versy last month when she sug­gested restrict­ing the use of the Kala­mata Pro­tected Des­ig­na­tion of Ori­gin (PDO) solely for olives grown in the region of Messe­nia, on the south­west­ern tip of the Pelo­pon­nese penin­sula.

The deci­sion of the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment to add the Kala­mata olives cul­ti­var to the national list of plant vari­eties as syn­ony­mous to the exist­ing Kala­mon cul­ti­var has cre­ated a mul­ti­tude of prob­lems and a major dis­rup­tion to all play­ers,” Fotini Aram­batzi said.

After a fierce back­lash from large por­tions of the Greek table olive sec­tor, how­ever, Aram­batzi backed away from her claim.

If for­mally put into leg­is­la­tion, the move would have repealed a 2018 law, which expanded the use of the PDO to Kala­mata olives grown through­out Greece.

The deputy minister’s announce­ment came as the asso­ci­a­tion of Messen­ian pro­duc­ers of Kala­mata olives has appealed the 2018 leg­is­la­tion through the coun­try’s judi­cial sys­tem. The case is expected to land in front of the Greek supreme court in May.


Doe­pel, the Greek inter­pro­fes­sional asso­ci­a­tion of table olives, were among the orga­ni­za­tions opposed to Arambatzi’s idea and argued that the change would hurt all Greek table olive pro­duc­ers. Accord­ing to Doe­pel, 97 per­cent of the Kala­mata olives in Greece are pro­duced in areas out­side Messe­nia.

The 2018 leg­is­la­tion enabled olive pro­duc­ers from all over the coun­try to take advan­tage of using the Kala­mata PDO, which has helped grow Greek table olive exports to more than €200 mil­lion ($223 mil­lion).

Accord­ing to Geor­gios Vare­menos, a mem­ber of the Greek par­lia­ment, the 2018 law increased Kala­mata table olive exports from 300 tons to 60,000 tons.

Aram­batzi has since struck a more rec­on­cil­ia­tory tone. After meet­ing with Doe­pel exec­u­tives, the deputy min­is­ter recon­sid­ered and pledged to go along with the cur­rent usage of the Kala­mata geo­graph­i­cal indi­ca­tor.

In this time of respon­si­bil­ity for our coun­try, we join forces and we work together for the ben­e­fit of our soci­ety and the national econ­omy,” the agri­cul­ture min­istry said in a press release. We con­sider our main pri­or­ity to be the increase in exports of all our agri­cul­tural prod­ucts and table olives in par­tic­u­lar… We will work for the well-mean­ing inter­ests of Greek table olives pro­duc­ers, proces­sors, can­ners and exporters.”

For now, Greek pro­duc­ers can con­tinue to use the Kala­mata PDO, regard­less of where the olives are grown. Depend­ing on the supreme court’s rul­ing, how­ever, this may soon change.

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