A Global Table event on September 3 at Melbourne Showgrounds aimed to promote awareness of Greek Geographical (GI) products, with intent to include in the provisions of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that is currently negotiated between the European Union and Australia.
Former US Secretary of State John Kerry was the official guest and enjoyed his time spent at the European stand where Greece was hosted to present Greek Geographical Indication products.
The focus of the event was to inform the public about the expected benefits of the introduction of Geographical Indications to Australia.
Recently the Australian Government launched a public consultation on the issue of Geographical Indications, publishing the list of GI’s proposed by the EU for inclusion in the Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
Greek City Times spoke with Trade Commissioner Katia Gkikiza (pictured below) from the Office for Economic & Commercial Affairs, Consulate of Greece in Sydney who was present at the Global Table event, discussing the concerning issue that there are companies currently producing European products that are questionable and passing them off as being authentic.
With the introduction of GI products, the European Union is seeking to protect in Australia products that have their origins in the EU.
To explain more specifically, there are products that are produced within specific geographical areas which fall under Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), that are produced with traditional method, particular characteristics, specific ingredients and of very high quality. EU certification and control guarantees, through the union’s extensive and strict system of approval, that these products will always have a visible distinctive sign on their packaging to certify that they have been produced according to the traditional standards.
Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) ensures that the product has been produced within the traditional geographical area and guarantees it has been produced according to the traditional standards, standards that again need to be evaluated and approved by the EU’s very strict system.
As an example, Greece has a long history in the production of Feta and its recipe; including specific traditional ingredients, methods, environmental characteristics and so on. It is a famous cheese associated with Greece, as is its production, therefore this is a PGI product and should display a distinctive sign on the packaging so that consumers may recognise that it is an authentic product according to traditional standards and meets the EU’s approval as such.
The Trade Commissioner expressed that these indicators guarantee quality and tradition whilst also playing a significant part in European food culture. The consumer is benefited with the assurance that the product is of the quality that it claims and is protected from imitation products on the market attempting to exploit well known product names to attract buyers.
The producers are also benefited because this enables them to continue to produce quality products according to region and traditions and raise recognition of the genuine product value.
By registering their Australian products, producers are able to consider offering them to the European market where consumers are very aware and knowledgeable of the Geographical Indicators.
This is a positive move forward for all and an important step to help protect, save and support quality traditional products on many levels.
In addition to promoting a healthier food culture the move will also benefit local communities, safeguarding traditions and in turn keeping people in their homeland, supporting local economy and boosting culinary tourism both in Europe and Australia.
The PDO products mark is a distinctive sign in red on packaging, identifying the product’s specific origin and exclusivity of characteristics, materials and region; and the PGI products guarantee produced according to traditional standards, is a distinctive sign in blue on packaging.
In Europe consumers recognise these indicators on products and with successful FTA negotiations between the EU and Australia these indicator symbols will also be seen on products in Australia.