Towards the end of 2020, Slovenia asked the EU to use the designation “balsamic vinegar”, causing the opposition of our Consortium (and not only).
There has been a rather controversial debate that is burning the hearts of two entire countries, Italy and Slovenia. The former is proud of its important culinary heritage, envied worldwide. The latter, towards the end of last year, clearly asked the European Commission to extend the designation of “balsamic” to all those kinds of vinegar produced with fruit and fermented juices, regardless of their location. Briefly, this Eastern European country wants to be able to market its “balsamic vinegar”.
The news has not been taken well by the consortia that have the mission to protect the balsamic vinegar of Modena, the only authentic vinegar that deserves to be named in this way. Why?
To understand the reasons behind the general outrage, which also involved Paolo De Castro, an Italian Member of the European Parliament elected with the Democratic Party, and Janusz Wojciechowski, the EU’s Agriculture Commissioner, we should try to go deeper into this matter. We must understand the economic reasons behind the choices made and undertaken by the two countries’ representatives on this thorny issue.
If, on the one hand, we have Slovenia trying to enter a market that can potentially yield billions, on the other hand, we have Italy, which counts on the production and the trade of this PDO/PGI product to raise (and not by a little) its income.
The Brussels Commission has not yet expressed its opinion, but a technical table has already been set up to assess the Slovenian proposal and to understand what could be the right move in order not to upset anyone.
The reasons why the balsamic vinegar can only be “of Modena”
Many will not understand at all why this dispute is so important for the destiny of our market, both the domestic and the export one. About this, it is necessary to clarify certain points that may not appear immediately obvious.
First of all, products made of fruit cannot be defined as “balsamic vinegar”, since the word “balsamic” has nothing to do with fructose, but it refers instead to the balsamic properties, which have more to do with the tree resins, eucalyptus flower and mint.
The name “balsamic” of the famous vinegar produced in Modena depends on the type of fermentation, obtained through a long aging process in particular wooden jars.
Moreover, by now the two words “balsamic vinegar” are immediately associated with the typical product of the Emilian city. Using this nomenclature, the Slovenes try to (literally) steal a good portion of the foreign market that, until now (and hopefully also tomorrow), has been exclusively ours.
Finally, according to the EU regulation on the packaging of goods, no rough definition can be used on the label, but the raw materials used in the production process must be indicated to be able to sell an item.
Therefore, if Slovenia intends to sell the “balsamic” vinegar from musts, they should necessarily write on the bottle “Grape must vinegar”. This is all about transparency and fairness, especially towards consumers.