` More Obstacles for New PDOs and PGIs in Italy


More Obstacles for New PDOs and PGIs in Italy

Dec. 22, 2015
By Luciana Squadrilli

Recent News

The arrival of this sea­son’s freshly pressed extra vir­gin olive oils and the lat­est scan­dals are food for thought on the newest PDOs (Pro­tected Des­ig­na­tions of Ori­gin) and PGIs (Pro­tected Geo­graph­i­cal Indi­ca­tions) in Italy. In Basil­i­cata, pro­duc­ers gath­ered to sell their PDO oil with a com­mon label while Sicily strug­gles to get its regional PGI rec­og­nized by the EU.

Despite the dif­fi­cul­ties and the less-than-sat­is­fy­ing results of pro­tected cer­ti­fi­ca­tions thus far, Ital­ian grow­ers and pro­duc­ers still con­sider them a good way to pro­tect and safe­guard their prod­ucts.

In Vùl­ture — a small area in the north­ern part of the Basil­i­cata region located under the epony­mous moun­tain and includ­ing the munic­i­pal­i­ties of Melfi, Rapolla, Bar­ile, Rionero in Vùl­ture, Atella, Ripacan­dida, Mas­chito, Gines­tra and Venosa — the local extra vir­gin olive oil pro­duc­ers decided to cre­ate a com­mon label to com­mer­cial­ize their PDO prod­ucts.

Basil­i­cata is famous for its olives, but the local oil is not yet fully appre­ci­ated and the ter­ri­tory is quite detached from the main flow of tourism, despite its rich his­tory and breath­tak­ing nat­ural beauty.

While the local Vùl­ture PDO has been approved since 2012, due to the small dimen­sions of the local farms, the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion has never received much atten­tion.


Now, the 16 pro­duc­ers and own­ers of cer­ti­fied groves in the Vùl­ture area, led by Giuseppe Mas­turzo, have given birth to a new com­pany called Soci­età Fran­toiani del Vùl­ture (Vùl­ture Oil Millers Coop­er­a­tive).

The sin­gle estates will keep pro­duc­ing and bot­tling their own extra vir­gin olive oil, but they will con­fer the PDO-cer­ti­fied oil to the new com­pany, which will bot­tle, label and com­mer­cial­ize it with a brand new lay­out, ele­gant pack­ag­ing and a unique name: Olio Vù.

This was a busi­ness deal,” said Antoni­etta Rucco, the com­pa­ny’s Pro­mo­tion and Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Man­ager, but we are firmly con­vinced of the United we stand, divided we fall’ motto. The Vùl­ture PDO’s pro­duc­tion reg­u­la­tion is the strictest in Italy for extra vir­gin olive oil and we have an out­stand­ing qual­ity, but we need to join our efforts the let our prod­uct to be known and appre­ci­ated. Local farms are very small and even by bot­tling all their PDO oil, we won’t exceed 200,00 bot­tles per year.”

The main local vari­ety, Ogliarola del Vùl­ture, must com­prise 60 per­cent of Vùl­ture PDO, while the remain­ing 40 per­cent can include other cul­ti­vars such as Coratina, Cima di Melfi, Pal­marola, Proven­zale, Lec­cino, Fran­toio, Can­nellino, Roton­della, Nocel­lara and Lado­lia. The acid­ity can­not exceed 0.38 per­cent (oleic acid).

Thanks to the min­eral com­po­si­tion of the soil in the area — the Vùl­ture once was a vol­cano — and to the local micro­cli­mate, here olive trees grow healthy and rich and the local olives give a smooth, mildly pun­gent and medium fruity extra vir­gin with a golden color and green­ish hues.

While the new Olio Vù was launched in Milan dur­ing Expo 2015, we still have to wait to taste the new har­vest’s out­put. Local grow­ers are still har­vest­ing — early har­vest is not that com­mon here — and it will take some more time to receive the PDO label due to the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­ce­dures. The new Olio Vù will only be avail­able at the begin­ning of 2016.

Going more South, things are get­ting harder. In Sicily, over the last two years the local com­mit­tee led by Mau­r­izio Lunetta — also pres­i­dent of the Sicilia wine des­ig­na­tion of orig­in’s con­sor­tium — has been putting all its effort to obtain a regional PGI for extra vir­gin olive oil, and to reach an agree­ment and a com­mon plan among all the island’s pro­duc­ers.

Despite count­ing on 6 dif­fer­ent PDOs and an acknowl­edged aver­age qual­ity, Sicil­ian olive oil still does not get a fair price on the national and inter­na­tional loose extra vir­gin mar­ket and the sin­gle geo­graphic denom­i­na­tions do not have an imme­di­ate link to the region’s name, even for Ital­ian peo­ple.

Val di Mazara PDO embraces a ter­ri­tory between Palermo and Agri­gento, but most of peo­ple only asso­ciates it with the har­bor city of Mazara del Vallo, on the south­ern coast,” Lunetta explained.

On the con­trary, Sicily is very well known and appre­ci­ated all over the world. The regional PDOs rep­re­sent our dia­mond point and are doing well, but they are too small com­pared to the whole Sicil­ian olive grove. We want to make the most of this wide acknowl­edge­ment.”

Unfor­tu­nately, after hav­ing been approved by Ital­ian Min­istry, the des­ig­na­tion has been sus­pended by the EU despite mak­ing requested adjust­ments to the reg­u­la­tion.

They are cur­rently rais­ing doubts on the legit­i­macy of all the regional des­ig­na­tions,” Lunetta explained, but we have our Min­istry’s sup­port and we are con­fi­dent. It would be a real shame to nul­lify all the efforts we made to per­suade the whole olive oil chain on the island — grow­ers, small pro­duc­ers and big bot­tlers — to sit at the same table for the very first time.


We have over 500 olive mills, a myr­iad of small farms in Sicily, and many dif­fer­ent vari­eties. But the great­est part of the Sicil­ian extra vir­gin is made from seven main cul­ti­vars and it has a dis­tinc­tive, eas­ily rec­og­niz­able char­ac­ter with pecu­liar fea­tures such as toma­to’s and almond’s notes. We have to count on our pecu­liar­ity and our bio­di­ver­sity.”

Lunetta said an over­all Sicilia IGP would be a strong asset to con­trol and track local pro­duc­tion and guar­an­tee fair com­pen­sa­tion for small grow­ers and to get rid of scams.

If we were able to totally elim­i­nate frauds, we could get a higher price for our oil, gain­ing at least one euro per kilo more than now. Things like that are a real dam­age for us,” Lunetta said.

Mean­while, some Sicil­ian pro­duc­ers have already obtained the Sicilia PGI cer­ti­fi­ca­tion from the Ital­ian min­istry for their groves, and they could put a tem­po­rary PGI label on the bot­tles of their new oil. But most anx­iously await the response from Brus­sels.

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