Greece is famous for a number of food products – think feta and manouri cheese, olive oil and mastiha to name a few. While it is possible to find some of these products made elsewhere in the world, there are distinct qualities that make the ones made in Greece particularly special, giving them the title of Geographical Indications (GIs).

To help promote these products, the Embassy of Greece took part in Geographical Indications Day on Saturday 24 November.

Organised by the Embassy of Italy and the Delegation of the European Union in Canberra, the event took place a day after the second round of negotiations concluded for the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between EU and Australia.

On the day a lively discussion took place on the topic by a panel of top experts in the field, including GI’s negotiators from the EU and Australia.

To follow, attendees were treated to a degustation of Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) and Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) products from various EU countries, along with high quality products from local Australian producers.

Greece participated with the country’s most iconic GI products, including PDO Feta cheese, PDO Manouri cheese, PDO Kolymvari Chanion olive oil, PDO Masticha Chiou mastic gum, and PGI Kritiko Paximadi wheat rusks.

Presenting Greece’s products was acclaimed Executive Chef of Alpha Restaurant in Sydney, Peter Conistis who explained what makes the products unique and proposed imaginative new ways to enjoy them.

Also in attendance were a number of official guests including the Ambassador of Greece in Australia, Katerina Xagorari and the Trade Commissioner of Greece, Katia.

“Both EU and Australia pay great importance to the quality of agricultural production and food, and they both have efficient monitoring procedures in place to ensure quality and compliance with standards,” Ms Gkikiza said.

In the EU, PGI’s set standards for the raw materials used, and for the processing of food products according to long community traditions. Not only is it beneficial for consumers as it guarantees a high quality product, it also has benefits for local communities as the status creates greater consumer awareness helping to ensure the continuation of production.

By having a better understanding of European values when it comes to food production, Ms Gkikiza said it would allow for better coordination and mutual acceptance of monitoring and standards between Australia and EU.

“Greece has several centuries-long agricultural traditions and internationally famous food products. As a result, there is a strong presence of Greek products in the EU lists of PGI products. Furthermore, half the Greek exports to Australia consist of food products. Therefore it is particularly important for Greece that the status of Greek PGIs is recognised under the FTA,” the Trade Commissioner said, adding that the recognition of PGIs in the future FTA would also be very beneficial for Australia.

“It will guarantee the quality of products available to the Australian consumers; it will protect the consumers against products that exploit famous brands in order to mislead about their actual qualities; and it will offer the opportunity to Australian producers to brand and promote their own unique traditional products in a similar way.”