`Greek Producers Reject Restrictions on Use of 'Kalamata’ on Table Olives - Olive Oil Times

Greek Producers Reject Restrictions on Use of 'Kalamata’ on Table Olives

Jul. 5, 2022
Costas Vasilopoulos

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The Greek national inter­pro­fes­sional asso­ci­a­tion of table olives (Doepel) has rejected the rul­ing of the country’s Council of State, which stip­u­lated that only olive pro­duc­ers of the Kalamon vari­ety based in Messenia are allowed to use the term Kalamata Olives’ to mar­ket their olives.

The court repealed a min­is­te­r­ial decree of 2018, which had effec­tively enabled pro­duc­ers of Kalamon olives from across Greece to also pro­mote their Kalamon olives under the Kalamata’ name, sim­i­larly to their coun­ter­parts in Messenia.

The court’s deci­sion endan­gers the com­mer­cial future of the country’s pri­mary agri­cul­tural prod­uct export.- Doepel, 

With regard to the 1149/2022 deci­sion of the Council… the admin­is­tra­tive board of the national Doepel… expresses its dis­ap­point­ment since the recorded dev­as­tat­ing con­se­quences and immea­sur­able dam­age inflicted on Greek table olive pro­duc­ers, man­u­fac­tur­ers and exporters were not taken into con­sid­er­a­tion,” the inter­pro­fes­sional wrote in a let­ter sent to Olive Oil Times

The court’s deci­sion endan­gers the com­mer­cial future of the country’s pri­mary agri­cul­tural prod­uct export, which has been exported since 1930 in quan­ti­ties sur­pass­ing 73,000 tons and a value exceed­ing €220 mil­lion annu­ally,” the inter­pro­fes­sional added.

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Doepel said Greece’s exports of Kalamon/Kalamata table olives are expected to increase to 120,000 tons per annum due to the increas­ing num­ber of new olive trees planted, mainly in the regions of Aetolia-Acarnania, Laconia and Fthiotida.

The inter­pro­fes­sional also ana­lyzed the rea­sons it dis­misses the court’s deci­sion and con­sid­ers it harm­ful to the country’s table olives sec­tor.

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Greek export­ing com­pa­nies, includ­ing those based in Messenia, are des­tined for dis­as­ter [after the court’s rul­ing] since they will be blocked from inter­na­tional mar­kets where their prod­ucts are known under the vari­ety name Kalamata olives,’” they wrote.

The olive pro­duc­ers of the spe­cific vari­ety, par­tic­u­larly those in Aetolia-Acarnania, Laconia and Fthiotida, who account for 90 per­cent [of the over­all national pro­duc­tion], are also headed towards a dead-end,” the inter­pro­fes­sional added.

The asso­ci­a­tion asserted that a gap would form in the inter­na­tional mar­ket for olives due to the inabil­ity of Greek pro­duc­ers to export their Kalamon/Kalamata olives, with the pos­si­bil­ity of other table olive-pro­duc­ing nations fill­ing the open­ing.

A Greek prod­uct can­not be exported to inter­na­tional mar­kets, while third coun­tries which have obtained olive tree sam­plings from Greece can freely export their olives as Kalamata Olives,” they wrote.

The asso­ci­a­tion added that other coun­tries, includ­ing Egypt, Turkey, Peru, Australia and South Africa, will take the lead in big mar­kets such as the United States and Canada, which account for 35 per­cent of Greek Kalamon/Kalamata olive exports.

Furthermore, Doepel claimed that the pro­mo­tion of Kalamon olives pro­duced out­side of Messenia as Kalamata Olives’ in no way affects the sub­se­quent extra gain of Messenian pro­duc­ers from the Protected Designation of Origin qual­ity label their olives bear.

The pro­duc­ers and exporters of Messenia can trade their olives accord­ing to the accred­i­ta­tion they have received, which also demar­cates the geo­graph­i­cal loca­tion of the prod­uct,” the let­ter said.

In 1996, a PDO cer­ti­fi­ca­tion was approved by the European Union for Kalamon olives pro­duced exclu­sively in the Messenia region.

Exports of the Kalamon/Kalamata olives, which began in 1930, have long pre­ceded the accred­i­ta­tion of olives of Messenian ori­gin with the PDO Elia Kalamatas’ label,” the asso­ci­a­tion said.

The inter­pro­fes­sional also wrote that the Greek state has become part of the dead­lock by forc­ing the country’s olive exporters in 1954 to label their Kalamon olives as Kalamata’ and mis­tak­enly reg­is­ter­ing the name of an olive vari­ety [Kalamata] as PDO with­out con­sid­er­ing the reper­cus­sions.”

On the other hand, Messenian pro­duc­ers argue that the court’s rul­ing placed them at their right­ful posi­tion in the country’s table olives sec­tor.

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, the asso­ci­a­tion in sup­port of PDO pro­duc­ers of Messenia, told Olive Oil Times in a recent inter­view.

We are sat­is­fied because our ini­tial claims about using the Kalamata name have been vin­di­cated by the court’s deci­sion,” he added.

The national inter­pro­fes­sional asso­ci­a­tion finally asked the Greek gov­ern­ment to inter­vene and pro­vide a solu­tion.

For all these rea­sons, we request quick action by the Ministry of Rural Development and Food to pro­tect the country’s pro­duc­ers, man­u­fac­tur­ers and exporters who account for 97 per­cent of the national pro­duc­tion of Kalamon olives against the sit­u­a­tion shaped by the Council’s deci­sion,” they wrote in their let­ter.

The high­est pri­or­ity mat­ter is to absolutely not block any exports under the name Kalamata olives’ to avoid any con­fu­sion in global mar­kets,” they con­cluded.


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