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2014.03.28 11:16

Why does Europe care about homemade „Daujėnų” bread and „Stakliškės“?

DELFI|The Lithuania Tribune2014.03.28 11:16

Those who buy Daujėnų homemade bread will soon see a label meaning that the product is registered in the registry of European Union Protected Geographical Indications. This is the sixth Lithuanian product – such label can also be used on Lithuanian curd cheese, mead Stakliškės, „Seinų/Lazdijų“ honey, „Skilandis“ and „Žemaitiškas kastinys“ (a kind of butter).

Those who buy Daujėnų homemade bread will soon see a label meaning that the product is registered in the registry of European Union Protected Geographical Indications. This is the sixth Lithuanian product – such label can also be used on Lithuanian curd cheese, mead Stakliškės, „Seinų/Lazdijų“ honey, „Skilandis“ and „Žemaitiškas kastinys“ (a kind of butter).

What do these labels give – is this another proof of the organic health food or attention to the EU rural areas?

Seeks protection

These symbols are recognized as a way to indicate unique and specific food heritage. However, their main purpose is to note that the name of the product is protected from the commercial use and user confusion. These characters are the most popular in the Western European shelves. The leader of the product list is Italy (262 products). France is second with 209 products. From the neighbouring countries Poland leads the list with 35 references. Estonia has no references at all while Latvia has two- rye bread and “Sklandrausis”- sweet rye dough pie with potato and carrot filling. Jolita Martutaitytė, chief officer at the Agricultural Production and Food Quality Department Policy Division under the Ministry of Agriculture, says that Lithuania is in a pretty good position by the number of labelled products. Together with Sweden we share 17th spot on the list“- says the specialist.

Recognition costs

Every manufacturer can qualify for such label. Those who want to register their product must perform tests to verify that the product fulfils all the prescribed requirements. Although reference registration and control costs can be partially offset by the EU or government funds, the manufacturers still have to cover a significant amount of the study costs.

After qualifying for such labelling last January the beekeepers from Seinai and Lazdijai say that costs are really significant.  “Research costs up to 500 Litas, so beekeepers have hesitated to do that quickly, because it means that the product’s price will have to rise. We were also not sure if the results would meet the requirements. Moreover, we had to equip the ideal honey bottling facilities. Requirements are as strict as those of a meat shops”- says J. Petrauskas, chairman of Lazdijų District Beekeepers’ Association.

Although the right to product protection and to the mark is received, the honey has not been marked with this label yet. Beekeeper hopes that it will happen this summer. “The interest is high, but we’ll only start selling from this season. Big chain stores are interested, but they want to get a very low price. Of course, we will not produce at high volume – good honey does not come in large amounts” – says J. Petrauskas. Although Lazdijų honey description is published on the Internet, a chairman does not expect an overwhelming amount of attention because honey is relatively expensive. “This kind of label is also viewed as ecological – people find it very positive but are still not willing to pay more”, says the chairman of Lazdijų District Beekeepers’ Association.

Fruit and vegetables are the most popular

The system of  European Union Protected Geographical Indications was implemented in 1992. Almost a decade later – in 2011- the registry had the thousandth entry- Italian cheese made from raw sheep’s milk and saffron crocus growing in Enna (“Piacentinu Ennese”). Cheese is still among the most frequently registered products. However, the leaders of the list are fruit, vegetables and grains (332 products). Raw meat products are also very popular- they take 279 positions in the list.

Those who wish to register their product should prove how the product is linked to a specific geographical area, and how is it different from other geographic areas of the manufactured products. The product has to be produced in the traditional way, not less than for 30 years, using the same recipe from generation to generation or using the traditional materials. Evidence must be submitted using historical sources, technical documentation or other information. Lithuanian manufacturers shall submit an application for registration to the Ministry of Agriculture- after verification and determining that the document complies with the regulation, it is forwarded to the European Commission.