Europe

Kalamata PDO Expands to All of Messinia

Jul. 27, 2015
By Lisa Radinovsky

Recent News

On July 13, the European Commission approved the exten­sion of the Kalamata olive oil Protected Designation of Origin through­out the Regional Unit of Messinia in the south­west­ern Peloponnese in Greece, con­sid­er­ably enlarg­ing the area cov­ered by the PDO. In his press release, Evangelos Apostolou, the Deputy Minister in the Greek Ministry for Production Reconstruction, Environment and Energy, pro­claimed “a happy ending to a long-term effort for the ben­e­fit of pro­duc­ers of the entire Regional Unity of Messinia” in spite of “obsta­cles and espe­cially the objec­tions sub­mit­ted in 2013 by the United Kingdom and com­pa­nies based in Switzerland, Norway and Egypt.”

The Deputy Minister’s press release indi­cates that the appli­ca­tion for an amend­ment from the Union of Agricultural Cooperatives of Messinia was approved because it was deter­mined “that the olive oils pro­duced in the region of Messinia have the same organolep­tic and chem­i­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics as those pro­duced in the area of Kalamata,” which is located in the region of Messinia. Deputy Minister Apostolou praised the deci­sion, adding that high-qual­i­ty​ agri­cul­ture and cer­ti­fied prod­ucts are essen­tial if the Greek rural econ­omy is to ben­e­fit from exports.

According to the European Commission, a Protected Designation of Origin or PDO “covers agri­cul­tural prod­ucts and food­stuffs which are pro­duced, processed and pre­pared in a given geo­graph­i­cal area using recog­nised know-how.” The new PDO intro­duces more strin­gent qual­i­ta­tive cri­te­ria than those laid down in Regulation 2568/1991 for extra virgin olive oil, a devel­op­ment Gaea CEO Aris Kefalogiannis told the Olive Oil Times he con­sid­ers the most impor­tant aspect of this deci­sion — although he would have pre­ferred even stricter cri­te­ria. Gaea has been work­ing with an olive press in the nar­rower region of Kalamata and will con­tinue to do so, but Kefalogiannis wel­comes the oppor­tu­nity to use olives from the extended region when bad crop years make that nec­es­sary.

Kostas Kontothanasis wrote recently in Olive News that the expan­sion of the Kalamata PDO will lead to an “annual crit­i­cal mass of about 50,000 tonnes” of olive oil, giving this PDO a “robust com­mer­cial pres­ence.” In May 2013, Olive News reported that the vice gov­er­nor of the regional unit of Messinia, Panagiotis Alevras, claimed that the expanded Kalamata PDO would “be the largest olive oil PDO world­wide.” Both Alevras and Kontothanasis stressed the impor­tance of qual­ity, with the former men­tion­ing the need for “pack­ag­ing, stan­dard­iza­tion, [and] export activ­ity … within the area” and the latter urging the use of olives from within the offi­cial PDO, their press­ing within 24 hours, and avoid­ance of plas­tic bags. Kontothanasis is con­fi­dent that “the pas­sion of Messinia pro­duc­ers” will result in high-qual­i­ty​ oils, argu­ing “that is why, hold­ing the world’s reins of stan­dard­iza­tion and mar­kets, Italians prefer this oil.”

Publishing an enthu­si­as­tic press release from the Producer Group NILEAS, Olive News indi­cated that coop­er­a­tives were in favor of the expan­sion, but Jenny Gyftea of AGROVIM SA “expressed fears that the sharp expan­sion of the cur­rent 5,000 tonne PDO to about 40,000 tonnes tomor­row will hardly be con­trolled for their qual­ity, and the increase in supply will depress the prices that are cur­rently enjoyed by the olive grower, and will open the door for stan­dard­iza­tion of Kalamata PDO [olive oils] by for­eign (Italian) indus­tries.”

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Last November, Olive News reported that the member of par­lia­ment rep­re­sent­ing Messinia, Thanasis Petrakos, met with the Minister of Agriculture to ask him to per­son­ally inform European Commission offi­cials that the Greek state required a res­o­lu­tion of the Kalamata olive oil PDO expan­sion ques­tion, which had been delayed for more than 10 years due to oppo­si­tion from unnamed “pri­vate bodies” as well as com­plaints from sev­eral coun­tries. This led to a request for, and the pro­vi­sion of, addi­tional infor­ma­tion from Greece. Petrakos empha­sized that “if the safe­guard­ing of the Kalamata olive oil PDO pro­ceeded, it would offer farm­ers an added value and would help to improve the econ­omy of the whole pre­fec­ture. One of the rea­sons that this matter does not pro­ceed is that it is hin­dered by Greek and for­eign inter­ests that want the Greek oil to be exported with­out iden­tity” (that is, in bulk, rather than being bot­tled and branded in Greece).