` Sicilian Olive Oil Seeks PGI Certification

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Sicilian Olive Oil Seeks PGI Certification

May. 20, 2013
By Michael Angelopoulos

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Nine regional orga­ni­za­tions rep­re­sent­ing pro­duc­ers, olive-press­ing com­pa­nies, refin­ers and bot­tlers, are join­ing forces in Sicily to sup­port an appli­ca­tion to the com­pe­tent bod­ies in the Euro­pean Union, in order to receive a PGI cer­ti­fi­ca­tion for Sicil­ian olive oil.

The part­ners endors­ing the ini­tia­tive are: the pro­duc­ers Cia, Coldiretti and Confa­gri­coltura; the coop­er­a­tives Agci, Lega­coop and Con­fo­op­er­a­tive; the oil mills Aifo and Asfo; and the bot­tler Federo­lio.

Mau­r­izio Lunetta, pres­i­dent of the coop­er­a­tive Aipo­livo, has been appointed unan­i­mously as the pres­i­dent of the newly formed asso­ci­a­tion aim­ing to pro­tect Sicil­ian olive oil.

Along with Mr. Lunetta the board con­sists of, Francesca Bar­bato of Coldiretti, Giuseppe Oro of Con­f­co­op­er­a­tive, Giuseppe Gior­dano of Confa­gri­coltura, Angelo Sil­litti of Agci, Calogero Gir­genti of Lega­coop, Piero Pipi­tone of Asfo, Mario Russo of Aifo, and Man­fredi Bar­bera of Federo­lio.

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A com­mit­tee has been formed to work exclu­sively and pre­pare all required doc­u­ments that will be used to sup­port the island’s appli­ca­tion for the PGI recog­ni­tion.

Pro­tected Geo­graph­i­cal Region (PGI) and Pro­tected Des­ig­na­tion of Ori­gin (PDO) cer­ti­fi­ca­tions cover all food prod­ucts. They are awarded to reflect on the labeled prod­ucts the char­ac­ter of a spe­cific local region or unique know-how.

The idea of a PGI extra vir­gin oil from Sicily found imme­di­ately a great accep­tance within the olive oil indus­try,” said Mau­r­izio Lunetta. The PGI cer­ti­fi­ca­tion is a tool that, if used effec­tively will increase the added value of Sicil­ian olive oil. It will help local indus­try to work in a sus­tain­able profit when very often this is not the case,” he said.

The ini­tia­tive is encour­aged by the Regional Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture.

Sicily is the third major pro­ducer of olive oil in Italy with a pro­duc­tion of approx­i­mately 3 mil­lion tons of olive fruit and 50,000 tons of olive oil. This pro­duc­tion trans­lates to €220 mil­lion in rev­enues for the indus­try and €500 mil­lion for the related mar­ket. Sicily’s olive crop is essen­tially organic with some 16,000 hectares of olive trees cul­ti­vated accord­ing to tra­di­tional meth­ods of pro­duc­tion.

More than 40 olive oil prod­ucts com­ing from Italy have been awarded either PDO or PGI cer­ti­fi­ca­tions — from as early as 1996 when the first reg­is­tra­tions were pub­lished. Ital­ian pro­duc­ers were among the first to cap­i­tal­ize on such prod­uct dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion and this is reflected in sales and mar­ket share world­wide.

The exam­i­na­tion of an appli­ca­tion takes a long time though. Two Ital­ian appli­ca­tions from Terra d’ Otranto applied on March 1, 2011 and Umbria applied on Octo­ber 17, 2011 are still in the pro­cess­ing phase.

The first Ital­ian olive oils to receive PDO cer­ti­fi­ca­tion on July 2, 1996, were Canino, Sabina, Brisighella, and Aprutino Pescarese.

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