Greek Court Rules in Favor of Olive Producers of Messenia

The court ruled that only Messenian producers can use the term ‘Kalamata Olives’ to market their Kalamon olives.
Messinia, Peloponnese, Greece
By Costas Vasilopoulos
Jun. 22, 2022 18:48 UTC

The Greek Council of State, the coun­try’s supreme admin­is­tra­tive court, has ruled that only pro­duc­ers of Kalamon table olives in the Messenia region in south­west Peloponnese are enti­tled to mar­ket their olives under the Kalamata’ brand name.

The court repealed the min­is­te­r­ial decree of 2018, which had added the term Kalamata olives/Elia Kalamatas’ to the Greek national list of plant vari­eties as syn­ony­mous with the Kalamon cul­ti­var.

We are sat­is­fied because our ini­tial claims about using the Kalamata name have been vin­di­cated by the court’s deci­sion.- Yiannis Pazios , SYMEPOP

The decree enabled Greek olive pro­duc­ers of the Kalamon vari­ety based out­side Messenia to pro­mote their olives as Kalamata Olives,’ gain­ing recog­ni­tion among global con­sumers.

On the other hand, their Messenian coun­ter­parts con­tin­ued to mar­ket their Kalamon olives under the Kalamata Olives’ brand and retained the added ben­e­fit of the Protected Designation of Origin label, which was attrib­uted to the olives of Messenian ori­gin by the European Union in 1996.

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In its deci­sion, the Supreme Court also stated that Greek pro­duc­ers of Kalamon olives out­side of Messenia must use the Kalamon’ term accom­pa­nied by the place of ori­gin to mar­ket their olives.

The case was under review by the court for more than two years after the appeal of SYMEPOP, the asso­ci­a­tion in sup­port of PDO olive pro­duc­ers of Messenia, against the min­is­te­r­ial decree.

In its appeal, the asso­ci­a­tion argued that the Commission reg­u­la­tion 1151/2012 per­tain­ing to PDO prod­ucts pro­hibits any direct or indi­rect use of a reg­is­tered name for com­mer­cial pur­poses. In the spe­cific case, the pro­tected term Kalamata’ had been used as a syn­onym of the vari­ety.

The Messenian pro­duc­ers also claimed that the Greek Ministry of Agriculture decree would enable olive pro­duc­ers any­where in the world to pro­mote their Kalamon olives under the brand name Kalamata.’

With the min­is­te­r­ial order of 2018, the state itself had legal­ized olives of the Kalamon vari­ety pro­duced any­where in the world to be mar­keted as Kalamata olives,” Yiannis Pazios of SYMEPOP told Olive Oil Times. We are sat­is­fied because our ini­tial claims about using the Kalamata name have been vin­di­cated by the court’s deci­sion.”

At the same time, we are dis­ap­pointed because we have lost a lot of time await­ing the court’s judg­ment on a prod­uct that needs a pro­mo­tional strat­egy to be devised as soon as pos­si­ble,” he added. The state and the inter­pro­fes­sional asso­ci­a­tions have so far failed to do so.”

Pazios also sug­gested that all par­ties set­tle on a com­monly accepted solu­tion.

We believe that the court’s deci­sion pro­vides the oppor­tu­nity for all stake­hold­ers, pro­duc­ers, exporters, olive asso­ci­a­tions and the Greek state to find com­mon ground and come up with a national plan for our olives,” he said. Of course, the solu­tion must be within the exist­ing reg­u­la­tory and sci­en­tific frame­work.”

Among other table olives vari­eties, Kalamon olives are grown in sev­eral regions of Greece with an aver­age annual pro­duc­tion of approx­i­mately 60,000 tons. This year’s yield, how­ever, is expected to fare lower at around 50,000 tons for the whole coun­try.

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The coun­try’s largest pro­duc­ing region of Kalamon olives is Aetolia-Acarnania in west­ern Greece, with an annual pro­duc­tion usu­ally exceed­ing 25,000 tons.

Other sig­nif­i­cant pro­duc­ers are the regions of Laconia and Fthiotida, with a har­vest rang­ing between 10,000 to 15,000 tons and 6,000 to 10,000 tons of olives, respec­tively, while Messenia’s pro­duc­tion totals 2,500 to 3,000 tons a year.

Around 80 per­cent of the coun­try’s Kalamon/Kalamata olive pro­duc­tion is exported with a value exceed­ing €200 mil­lion.

Non-Messenian pro­duc­ers of Kalamon olives protested the rul­ing of the State Council, claim­ing that the olive sec­tor of the coun­try would be severely impacted.

We all have to under­stand that after the court’s deci­sion, no [table “” not found /]
plant in Greece or Europe can export olives under the name Kalamata Olives’ apart from [plants located in] Messenia,” five agri­cul­tural asso­ci­a­tions from around the coun­try said in a joint state­ment.

Conversely, other non‑E.U. coun­tries (Egypt, Turkey, Morocco and Chile) can freely export their olives as Kalamata Olives,’” the state­ment fur­ther read.

The asso­ci­a­tions also asked the Ministry of Agriculture to step in and pro­vide a solu­tion to the Kalamata appel­la­tion issue.

Otherwise, a gap of 80,000 tons in world mar­kets will be cov­ered by [Kalamon olives from] other coun­tries,” they said.

At the time of pub­li­ca­tion, the Greek national inter­pro­fes­sional orga­ni­za­tion of table olives (DOEPEL) had not responded to a request from Olive Oil Times for com­ment on the court’s rul­ing.


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