After receiv­ing PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) sta­tus at a national level in 2015, extra vir­gin olive oil from the penin­su­lar region of Istria in Croatia is now await­ing the same recog­ni­tion in the EU.

The appli­ca­tion for PDO sta­tus for Istrian extra vir­gin olive oil was sub­mit­ted to the European Commission on July 30, 2015. In accor­dance with offi­cial pro­ce­dures, the appli­ca­tion was exam­ined for “receiv­abil­ity” and then pub­lished in the Official Journal on March 23, 2016.

I expect Istrian extra vir­gin olive oil will receive PDO sta­tus at the EU level in the sec­ond half of the year.- Ivan Jakovčić, eurodeputado croata

Ivan Jakovčić, a Croatian Member of European Parliament and for­mer polit­i­cal head of the Istrian Region for more than a decade, played an impor­tant role in the devel­op­ment of Istria as an olive-grow­ing region, and has more recently been advo­cat­ing for mea­sures sup­port­ing and pro­mot­ing the European olive sec­tor. He has also played an active role in the prepa­ra­tion for this appli­ca­tion for PDO sta­tus. “As a pres­i­dent of the Region of Istria, and, since 2014, MEP and mem­ber of the Committee on Agriculture, I’ve been in close con­tact with a team man­ag­ing this project and help­ing them to a suc­cess­ful end,” he told Olive Oil Times.
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“Acting for more than a decade as a pres­i­dent of the Region of Istria, I have been strongly sup­port­ing the devel­op­ment of olive grow­ing in Istria, tak­ing advan­tage of its soil and cli­mate char­ac­ter­is­tics rec­og­nized as far back as Ancient Roman times. Istrian extra vir­gin olive oil is prized for and dis­tin­guished by its high qual­ity, physico-chem­i­cal and organolep­tic char­ac­ter­is­tics. Thanks to sup­port and invest­ments by our regional gov­ern­ment, pro­duc­tion has increased sig­nif­i­cantly and olive oil from Istria is gain­ing increas­ing inter­na­tional recog­ni­tion. After gain­ing national PDO sta­tus in 2015, the next step was the appli­ca­tion for the PDO sta­tus at the European level.”

Croatian olive oils won 9 awards among 16 sub­mit­ted entries at this year’s New York International Olive Oil Competition.

Under the EU’s prod­uct cer­ti­fi­ca­tion sys­tem there are three dif­fer­ent exist­ing des­ig­na­tions for agri­cul­tural prod­ucts and food­stuffs:

  • PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) des­ig­nates a prod­uct or food­stuff which is pro­duced, processed and pre­pared in a cer­tain geo­graph­i­cal area using rec­og­nized know-how.
  • PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) refers to a prod­uct or food­stuff that is closely linked to a cer­tain geo­graph­i­cal area, with at least one stage of pro­duc­tion, pro­cess­ing or prepa­ra­tion tak­ing place in this area.
  • TSG (Traditional Speciality Guaranteed) vouches for the tra­di­tional char­ac­ter of a prod­uct, refer­ring to either its com­po­si­tion or means of pro­duc­tion.

Extra vir­gin olive oil pro­duced in Istria qual­i­fies for the high­est des­ig­na­tion because all stages of its pro­duc­tion take place in the region, from the grow­ing of olive trees to the press­ing and pro­cess­ing of the olives for oil, and its bot­tling and pack­ag­ing. Once PDO sta­tus is granted, bot­tles of Istrian extra vir­gin olive oil will be labelled with the des­ig­na­tion “Istarsko extra dje­vičan­sko masli­novo ulje” (Istrian extra vir­gin olive oil) and bear a spe­cially designed logo.

Not only does a prod­uct cer­ti­fi­ca­tion des­ig­na­tion like PDO rein­force trust among con­sumers that they are buy­ing an authen­tic, qual­ity prod­uct orig­i­nat­ing in a spe­cific geo­graph­i­cal region, it also gives local pro­duc­ers a com­pet­i­tive advan­tage. “By label­ing their prod­ucts with the sym­bol and stamp, local pro­duc­ers will gain a bet­ter posi­tion in European and global mar­kets,” con­firmed Jakovčić. “PDO sta­tus will boost the devel­op­ment of olive grow­ing in Istria. Furthermore, the Istrian EVOO label will ensure a higher qual­ity and a more com­pet­i­tive prod­uct, guar­an­tee­ing high qual­ity and authen­tic­ity for con­sumers. At the same time, local pro­duc­ers in Istria will be bet­ter pro­tected against olive oil fraud.”

While the process for PDO cer­ti­fi­ca­tion took five years at the national level, it is hoped that this will go faster for the EU des­ig­na­tion. In accor­dance with European Commission pro­ce­dures, a six-month objec­tion period is observed fol­low­ing the pub­li­ca­tion of an appli­ca­tion in the Official Journal, dur­ing which time any state­ments of objec­tion can be received and exam­ined. Jakovčić is con­fi­dent that there will be no objec­tions and that Istrian extra vir­gin olive oil will receive the offi­cial recog­ni­tion it deserves quickly: “I do not expect any objec­tions to be tabled within the six-month period after the pub­li­ca­tion. Consequently, I expect Istrian extra vir­gin olive oil will receive PDO sta­tus at the EU level in the sec­ond half of the year.”

Extra vir­gin olive oil from the Croatian island of Cres already enjoys PDO sta­tus at the EU level since 2015, while other appli­ca­tions are also pend­ing for olive oils from the islands of Krk, Korčula and Šolta.


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