The label of a product

Have you ever read the label of a product without knowing what you are reading?

Have you ever seen the acronyms D.O.P and I.G.P on a label or in the menu of your favorite restaurant? If yes, are you sure that you understand the meaning of these acronyms?

Reading the labels correctly is easier than you think!

While globalization is spreading out and population is declined, pressure is put on the farmers of European Union, by the emerging low-cost production countries.

The competition for basic agricultural products and value-added products is increasing. Taking all these into consideration, the most powerful weapon that farmers have at their disposal is the quality. The European Union offers an advantage in quality, thanks to the high- security level that is guaranteed by her legislation in the food chain.  Farmers and producers have relied on that security.

When the expectations of the consumers are met, then we can claim that there is quality.  Quality in the Green Paper of the E.U has to do with the methods of the agricultural production, the location of the production, etc, which are some characteristics that the farmers want to advertise and the consumers want to be aware of.  The Green Paper doesn’t deal with issues about the safety of the products, as this is already checked with the labels about their nutritional value, the animal treatment etc.

Consumers want products at affordable prices. Besides that, consumers and producers have more demands about the value and the quality of the products they buy.  The most important issues in E.U are the hygiene and the safety of the products (it is a non-negotiable demand), their nutritional value and the demands of the society.

The agricultural policy of E.U supports the farmers’ attempts to keep up with the quality expectations. Also, through her system and her policies, she helps them find new and innovative ways to increase their profits. She applies some of the strictest measures worldwide, concerning the safety and hygiene, the identity and the quality of the product, the effects on the environment, the health of plants and animals as well as the well-being of the animals.

Ε.U. has established four quality method systems for the creation of geographical indications, biological agricultural production, traditional products and products from the most distant areas of the E.U.  With these methods, consumers can recognize products with special properties, which can be attributed to their derivation or  their production method. To make sure that these indications are justified, there is a constant observation, about whether the products keep up with the indications that they claim. Farmers that produce authentic products are protected by the sale of products that tend to imitate them by using their brand name and sell the product at lower prices.

With the term “geographical indication”, a product is described according to its features that are attributed to its agricultural area.  Many consumers in E.U and lots of people around the world are searching for authentic products from specific geographical areas and they are willing to pay a higher price for that.  The “agricultural indication” involves Protected Geographical indication (PGI) and Protected Designation of Origin (PDO). In a POD product, all stages of production should have taken place in the geographical area and its characteristics should be attributed solely to his geographical region. In a PGI product, at least one stage of its production should have taken place in the geographical region and the link with this specific region should be due to its quality or fame or any characteristic that is linked with this specific area.  

The PGI products can be recognized by symbols that have been created by the E.U to identify these products.

Public and private services examine the products with a process that the farmers have agreed on.  As a whole, 3000 examinations have been established or they are under examination to be examined. These examinations are about wines, alcohol, agricultural, and food products.

Over the last years, there is a great increase in the demand for biological products which is bigger than the increase in offer. Farmers and consumers are based on the integrity of the biological-cultivation system to make sure that a product has been produced according to the demands. There are some products that are controlled by other systems of the E.U like the high natural value products or highland products; quality as far as the good treatment is concerned, for marking of E.U derivation and for extension of the ecological signal system to processed agricultural products.

The main cost that comes up from the participation in certification systems can be divided into two categories: “direct” and “indirect”. The direct cost is about dues-paying members, control by other people and certification. The indirect cost is about the upgrade of the facilities that are required for the certification systems and the production costs.

All over the world, many products are known by their derivation: Gorgonzola cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano,  feta cheese, Waterford blaas, Asiago, Cambebert, Herefordshirer cider, cognac, Armagnac, and champagne have taken their names from their production place. Roquefort for example, must use milk from a specific type of goat and must be developed in natural caves near the town Roquefort-sur- Soulzon in the boonies Aveyron in France, where it is contaminated by the Penicillium roqueforti fungus that is met in these caves.

Italy is the first country in Europe with the most D.O.P and I.G.P products respectively: DOP (Denominazione d’Origine Protetta/ Protected Designation of Origin- PDO) και IGP (Indicazione Geografica Protetta/Protected Geographical Indication). These indications differentiate the Parmigiano Reggiano DOP cheese from parmesan, the San Marzano dell’Agro Sarnese Nocerino DOP tomatoes from the ordinary tomatoes, the Aceto Balsamico di Modena IGP from the thick balsamic season that we add in salads. Nevertheless, IGP indication isn’t as strict as DOP indication, as it can’t guarantee all the production stages as DOP.

Some other corresponding terms are: traditional specialty guaranteed (TSG) , the STG (Specialita Tradizionale Garantita) and PAT (Prodotto Agroalimentare Tradizionale) . The second one is about products that have firmly established  traditional methods over the last 25 years in the domains of process, maintenance and maturation.  Those products are completely linked to their production area, not because their production is restricted only to these areas, but because this fact makes offers them some special characteristics that make them unique and identifiable among similar products. Last but not least, another term to be presented is DE.CO (Denominazione  Comunale) . It refers to products that are linked to a town, which doesn’t belong to E.U, that’s why its use is restricted.

Similar acronyms are applied to wines of higher quality: DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) for wines produced in specific restricted areas, DOCG  (Denominazione di Origine controllata e garantita) for Italian wines of high quality and international fame, which undergo very strict examinations and their bottles are numbered for their guaranteed quality.  Finally, IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica/ Indication of Typical Geography), which is a simple geographical indication with less strict prerequisites but it still refers to wines of high quality that don’t keep up with the demands of the aforementioned categories.

Read the label correctly to make the right choice!

You can find our D.O.P products on our new eshop by clicking below:

San Marzano Tomato D.O.P

Green LE PUY lentils D.O.P

Fleur de sel I.G.P.

Aceto Balsamico di Modena I.G.P.