Producers in Abruzzo Seek PGI Certification

Farmers and producers in Italy’s fifth-largest producing region hope the PGI will add value to their olive oils and mitigate rising production costs.
Abruzzo, Italy
Oct. 24, 2022
Paolo DeAndreis

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Citing a pro­duc­tion tra­di­tion that dates back more than 2,000 years and its unique ter­roir, pro­duc­ers in the cen­tral Italian region of Abruzzo have asked to have their extra vir­gin olive oil rec­og­nized with a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) by the European Union.

Now, a series of bureau­cratic and oper­a­tive hur­dles must be cleared for the PGI pro­posal to enter the list of E.U.-certified food spe­cial­ties.

The PGI olive oil could be the cor­ner­stone of a sys­tem that adds value to the region.- Nicola Sichetti, pres­i­dent, CIA Abruzzo

To this end, the Italian Agricultural Confederation’s Abruzzo (CIA Abruzzo) branch has launched the Abruzzo PGI pro­mo­tion com­mit­tee. Its goal is to com­pile the doc­u­men­ta­tion, which will then be sent to the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policy.

The PGI olive oil could be the cor­ner­stone of a sys­tem that adds value to the region,” said Nicola Sichetti, pres­i­dent of CIA Abruzzo.

See Also:European Union Expands Monte de Etna PDO Territory in Sicily

He added that Abruzzo is Italy’s fifth-largest olive oil-pro­duc­ing region, with annual yields of about 27,500 tons. About 60,000 farm­ers, agri­cul­tural busi­nesses, and 530 millers are involved in olive oil pro­duc­tion.

Some of Abruzzo’s olive groves are cen­turies old, and the tra­di­tion of olive grow­ing dates back to the fifth cen­tury BCE. Under Roman rule, olive cul­ti­va­tion flour­ished and is cited by promi­nent authors, includ­ing Virgil and Ovid. In addi­tion, olive oil pro­duc­tion and trade were a source of wealth for many in Rome.

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After a period of stag­na­tion dur­ing the Middle Ages, olive grow­ing in Abruzzo under­went a period of restora­tion at the begin­ning of the 19th cen­tury after sev­eral farm­land reforms, which also paved the way for the cul­ti­va­tion of vines.

During this time, olive oil became a sta­ple of local house­holds and was widely used dur­ing reli­gious cer­e­monies.

While the new PGI pro­posal is meant to iden­tify and pro­tect tra­di­tional extra vir­gin olive oil pro­duc­tion in the region, there are already three with Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) sta­tus. Overall, there are 49 PDO olive oils in Italy.

The whole pro­duc­tion chain can ben­e­fit from the inno­va­tion and the val­oriza­tion of this prod­uct,” Sichetti said. We already have those three PDOs, but they are not enough to sup­port Abruzzo extra vir­gin olive oil, a prod­uct we hope to make rec­og­niz­able at regional, national and European lev­els.”

He added that the pro­posed PGI would add needed value to local olive grow­ers, who have seen pro­duc­tion costs rise faster than prices. Many risk not even being able to cover the pro­duc­tion costs,” he added.

According to Emanuele Imprudente, the agri­cul­tural sec­re­tary of the Abruzzo regional gov­ern­ment, the ini­tia­tive is an excel­lent first step.

We need it to be able to sell and pro­mote a PGI olive oil which will be a source of pride for the whole region,” he added. Specific pub­lic sup­port aimed at the millers will also accom­pany the PGI pro­posal.”

Luigi Di Giandomenico, pres­i­dent of Innovaolio, a local pro­duc­tion chain project, said every­one in the region needs to work together for the PGI ini­tia­tive to suc­ceed.

We are going through chal­leng­ing times,” he con­cluded. We have the duty to react together and be united in this propo­si­tion.”



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