FAO helps develop protected status for food products in Croatia
Joint project with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to develop Geographical Indication labels aims to increase market competitiveness.
Mandarins and sausages from two regions in Croatia have won protected Geographical Indication (GI) status with the help of a joint project run by FAO and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
GI status is granted to goods that have a specific geographical origin and is an effective way to communicate quality, safety and tradition to consumers. It can support rural development by increasing market competitiveness as well as preserving cultural heritage and adding value to local products.
As a result of the FAO/EBRD project to develop GIs in Croatia, mandarins from the Neretva Valley and sausage from the Baranja region in the east of the country now bear the GI label.
Their registration “provides the opportunity to local producers to market a niche quality product more effectively and to get access to wider distribution networks and European markets” thanks to increased brand recognition, said Vedrana Jelusic Kasic, EBRD Director for Croatia, at a joint FAO/EBRD conference in Zagreb today.
With the support of the Croatian agribusiness company Agrokor and the country’s Ministry of Agriculture, the project organized groups of farmers to come together to create product-specific standards, and the GIs were officially registered over the course of just three years.
With their registration, the Neretva mandarin and the Baranjski kulen (sausage) join products such as Parmigiano Reggiano, Champagne or Florida Oranges, which enjoy global recognition.
Worldwide there are approximately 10 000 registered GIs with annual trade value estimated at USD 50 billion.
The next step for Croatia is to ensure the recognition of their GIs by the European Commission so they are protected on the European market as well. The Ministry of Agriculture will oversee this process so the Neretva mandarin and Baranjski kulen can be enjoyed abroad and financial returns to farmers can grow.
“We have several regions – Slavonia, Baranja, Istria and Dalmatia – where you have different technology and different types of traditional products,” said Jelena Đugum, Head of Service at the Croatian Ministry of Agriculture, “The methods of production are transferred from generation to generation and nowadays they are really typical and very good for our country, especially in the way of tourism.”
The kulen was successfully registered with a protected geographical indication (PGI) in July 2012 and the mandarin achieved protected designation of origin (PDO) status, which has even stricter requirements than the PGI, in September 2013.
The recognition of these GIs goes beyond the first two products, which are expected to serve as examples in the region. Producers of similar goods in the Balkans have already initiated the GI registration process. As international recognition grows farmers will be able to hold on to tradition and culture while seeing their investments grow.