Italy Takes Action in EU Court to Defend Balsamic Vinegar

Italy has accused Slovenia of 'snatching' market for its beloved national product
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 10, 2022 1:42 PM CDT
Italy Takes Action in EU Court to Defend Balsamic Vinegar
   (Getty - bhofack2)

(Newser) – There’s an international battle brewing over balsamic vinegar, and though it may seem negligible in the grand scheme of things, it’s very important to the Italian government, which has launched infringement proceedings against Slovenia over the sweet, syrupy vinegar. Per the Guardian, it’s a continuation of a months-long effort by Italy to defend the authenticity of the product and the $1 billion market it underpins. It started last year when Slovenia gave the European Commission a draft law that would standardize vinegar production, allowing any wine vinegar mixed with fruit juice or grape musts to be labeled as “balsamic vinegar.”

Italy has previously secured protections for the term aceto balsamico di Modena (balsamic vinegar of Modena), which can only be marketed by producers in the specific Italian regions. EU courts already shot down Italy’s bid to keep German producers from using the terms "balsamic" and "German balsamico," ruling that Italy’s existing protection "does not extend to the use of non-geographical individual terms." However, Italy’s current gripe isn’t just about a name; the Slovenian move would allow producers to bypass EU rules about specifying ingredients on labels, per Politico, which reported on the topic in May, when Italy invoked an appeals process through the EU that automatically delayed the Slovenian vinegar law for three months.

At the time, Italian Agriculture Minister Stefano Patuanelli said that "protection of Italy's food and wine heritage is a priority for the government," and that Slovenia’s alleged "snatching" of the balsamic vinegar name "represents an attack on the entire 'Made in Italy' system of quality." The next stop in formal infringement proceedings involves negotiations through the European Commission, followed by a possible case in the EU Court of Justice. Per European Food Agency News, Mariangela Grosoli, President of the Consortium for the Protection of Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, said she saw a "glimmer of light," and the news "reassures us and raises our spirits, as it confirms … the full support of the government is on our side." (Read more European Commission stories.)

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