The Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) label the olives of the Kalamata variety carry is ascribed only to olives produced in Messinia at Southern Peloponnesus and signifies their superiority and high quality. And while the PDO label gives added value to Messinia producers, it precludes producers of other regions of Greece to capitalize on the specific variety, thus creating a point of dispute.
The confrontation has now escalated, with the Union of Standardizers and Exporters of Edible Olives of Greece (PEMETE) requesting the Ministry of Agriculture to officially abolish the Kalamata olives PDO label. It is argued that it hasn’t served the Messinia producers as expected and if eliminated the national economy would benefit more by increased quantities of olives with the Kalamata tag being exported.
The local olive producers of Messinia have in turn rejected the idea, arguing that a PDO label is by definition area-specific and the special microclimatic conditions that dominate the region and their treatment to trees enable them to produce olives of better quality. What is more, the mayor of the city of Kalamata has sent a letter of protest to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Agriculture, urging them to reject the claim of PEMETE and retain the Kalamata olives PDO label. Obviously, there are a lot in stake for both sides and the commotion is not expected to end soon.
The whole situation is clearly a matter of marketing and promotion: approach markets with local, quality products of limited output and higher consumer prices or instead use mass-production goods that cost less. The above reflection sets the focus on the producers, but the consumers should become part of the equation as well and decisions should be made based on what is good for both.