Failure to register traditional foods like the ġbejna, mqaret and pastizzi as genuine Maltese products is placing local producers at a disadvantage with their European counterparts, Nationalist Party MEP candidate Peter Agius lamented.
“We are bringing foreigners to Malta but we are forgetting to take typical Maltese produce abroad,” the former head of the European Parliament delegation to Malta said in a Facebook post.
“A piece of fromage de chevre in Brussels does not taste as good as the ġbejna but sells for three times as much. Imagine how we could promote Maltese products, if we are able to use available EU tools,” the candidate added in his post.
Dr Agius remarked that the matter was raised by farmers during various visits he carried out during his campaign for next week’s European Parliament election.
The MEP expressed his disappointment that, 15 years after membership, Malta was yet to register a single product under an EU scheme of geographical indications and traditional species known as protected designation of origin (PDO).
After having tapped EU funds to modernise their equipment and improve standards, Maltese authorities have failed to take the decisive step to give European recognition to its traditional products.
Imagine how we could promote Maltese products if we use available EU tools
“While an application to register the ġbejna has been pending for three years, Italy has more than 300 varieties of cheese protected under the PDO scheme,” he pointed out.
Dr Agius added that the lack of such recognition affected consumer trust and for this reason pledged to do his utmost to address the matter.
“Europe has to become a showcase of Maltese produce, tradition and identity,” he said.
The unique characteristics that make up the rounds of sheep’s milk cheese have already been studied and documented in a five-year project between the University of Malta, the University of Catania and a Sicilian dairy research centre.
However, Dr Agius said that apart from the ġbejna, other types of food should be registered such as sun-dried tomatoes (tadam imqadded) and pickled onions (basal tal-pikles).
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