Greek Dairy Industry launches initiative to help Greek feta identity

Earlier it was Greek yogurt that hit the headlines. Now its the turn of Greek Feta cheese to face its own identity crisis.  According to the Greek Reporter, the Federation of Greek Dairy Industry (SEVGAP) on Thursday launched an initiative aimed to help resolve problems facing Greek feta cheese as a national product outside the country.

The Federation met with representatives from producers, academics, political parties and the legal world at the Agricultural University of Athens to examine and promote systematic and more efficient ways of resolving the problem of establishing the identity of feta cheese. The meeting agreed on a series of immediate actions (both on national and EU level) and agreed to involve a larger number of officials and organizations in this effort, such as: a vote in the Greek Parliament, demanding explanations and fundamental corrective actions by the Agricultural Commissioner in the Greek Parliament and requesting the intervention of the European Ombudsman over the handling of the issue by the European Commission.

In 2005 the ECJ reaffirmed  that  feta was a name reserved for cheese from Greece as it had been registered as a protected designation of origin by the European Commission in 2002.

Germany and Denmark had asked the European court to annul the decision by the Commission in 2002 to make feta a Greek-only product – the same kind of protection as that given to Italy’s parma ham and French champagne.

But in  2014, as part of trade talks (TTIP), the European Union proposed to ban the use of European names like parmesan, feta and gruyere on cheese made in the United States.

Greek feta exports rose 85 %  between 2007 and 2014 to 260 million euros, and sales to countries outside the EU more than doubled.

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