Adulteration detection and traceability of high added value products secure the income of producers in rural areas and guarantee food of high quality.
The practice strengthens the competitiveness of agri-food enterprises by identifying the authenticity of local traditional products in North Aegean area and Cyprus and builds mechanisms to strengthen rural entrepreneurship for their commercial exploitation in domestic and international markets.
The innovative approach identifies authenticity in relation to the characteristics of the products, the means of production and their origin.
More specifically, the practice contributes to:
- Mapping the authenticity features of local products including local varieties, dairy products, wine and oils
- Developing standard procedures and structures for the provision of authenticated identity and digital identity
- Developing business skills and business support in identifying, promoting and marketing local products.
The project makes a decisive contribution to the acquisition of the local products as authentic identity and internationally recognizable brand name, catalyzing the competitiveness of enterprises producing, processing and marketing authentic local products in the domestic and international markets.
In the project a strong collaboration was established between academia from the urban areas (Thessaloniki and Limnos) and the rural stakeholders such as farmers, small scale rural food industry, consumers and local authorities. In addition the academia from the urban areas developed and performed a comprehensive education course in rural business development.
The project has a total budget of almost 1.582.000 euros and around 15 people are working on it. The project is funded by the Greece-Cyprus Interreg Programme.
Evidence of success
The practice is applied for local plant and dairy raw materials and products of the North Aegean and Cyprus. Providing a unique identity to the traditional products and ensuring their authenticity has enhanced competitive business in the agro-diet sector in the Greek and global market. At least 30 farmers in N. Aegean and 30 in Cyprus were educated in rural business development, more than 100 SMEs benefited by the authentication of their products and more than 300 products were authenticated.
The main challenge was to transmit the information to the farmers – producers and convince them to participate by validating their products. Finally, comprehensive presentation of the project and its benefits encouraged them to actively participate.
Potential for learning or transfer
Authentication testing and adulterant detection of agricultural products including cereals, beans, vegetables, olive oils, fruit products, nuts, musts and spices are crucial for value assessment, to check unfair competition and mainly to ensure consumer protection against fraudulent practices commonly observed in unscrupulous trade. Food authenticity has become a subject of great concern since the incorrect labeling of food products represents a commercial fraud. Many regions of Europe produce high added value products or can potentially produce such products. The practice introduced in the North Aegean and Cyprus can easily be transferred to other areas with similar characteristics. It was tranfered to East Macedonia to authenticate the herbal tea “mountain tea” and Western Macedonia to authintace prepses beans and educate farmers of Prespes area. Authenticating the products helps with their branding and increases their value.