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07/11/2011

Croatian Kulen producers exploring the benefits of Geographical Indications

Producers of the typical kulen sausage – from Croatia’s Baranya region - visited Italy to see how sausage producers can use geographical indications to boost sales. The tour took place in Parma from 19 to 22 September 2011 and was sponsored by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). It was also supported by Agrokor, a Croatian company involved in the production of kulen.

The Baranski kulen has unique characteristics related to local climatic conditions and the territory where it is produced. Given the particular flavour of the meat and the traditional recipes used to prepare it, the sausage is a natural candidate for registered Geographical Indication (GI) status. The GI approach – which Croatia is starting to introduce – can be a way to add value to typical products and boost rural development through tourism.

Representatives from the Croatian kulen industry met with a whole range of entities involved in sausage geographical indications in Italy, including regional authorities, the University of Parma, sausage producers and producers’ associations (consorzi). The cases of three famous GI products of the Parma region were analyzed: the Salame di Felino PGI (Protected Geographical Indication), the Salami Piacentini PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) and the Culatello di Zibello PDO. During the tour, the Italian hosts explained the respective roles of local institutions and producers’ associations in the registration procedures of GIs. Lessons were drawn for the management of GIs in Croatia and discussion topics included:

- the critical role of producers’ organizations;

- the sausage production and packaging process, as well as the certification procedures;

- collaboration between small-scale producers and larger industrial companies;

- food safety, hygiene standards and regulations;

- the importance of information and communication to consumers.

Tour participants were introduced to the EU concept of Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) and Protected Designation of Origin (PDO). Only producers from the specific geographical areas - in this case the cities of Felino, Piacenza and Zibello – can use the respective registered geographical brands. Over time, these names have built a strong reputation and need to be protected from counterfeit. The protection of collective brands benefits producers - by commanding higher prices - and consumers - by guaranteeing the origin and quality of the product. The Croatian delegation realised the importance of carefully elaborating the code of practice/specifications to which registered products need to conform. The Italian cases also illustrated the diversity of marketing strategies adopted by producers, depending on their size and the product’s typicality. Family companies, for instance, are more attached to traditional processes – as opposed to industrial producers – and target restaurants and connoisseurs that can afford higher prices. In all scenarios, Italian producers highlighted the importance of linking the product to its territory and developing synergies with tourism.

The study tour reinforced the intention of kulen producers to develop a territorial brand to protect and market their products. The tour participants also confirmed their interest in taking advantage of emerging gastronomic tourism in their region to promote their products. Please click here for the study tour slide show and the documents.

 

Baranya is situated in the Pannonian valley, in the north-eastern part of Croatia. Kulen sausages produced from this region are famous throughout Croatia and the Balkans. Kulen sausages are produced according to traditional recipes. They are long-life fermented sausages made of chopped pork, seasoned with ground paprika, garlic and white pepper and stuffed in pigs’ caecum. Only the best parts of locally produced pigs (shoulders, back muscles and legs) are used. The taste of Baranski kulen is slightly spicy and close to the flavour of smoke-dried fermented meat. In view of its unique organoleptic qualities and the long tradition of production, Baranski kulen sausages are in the process of being registered as a Geographical Indication in line with EU provisions.