Unfortunately, relevant authorities are currently focusing their energies on legislation which scrutinises the ‘quality’ of local products. Of course, this is NOT a bad thing in itself… we actually need to address the issue of quality. But when you consider that we’re concentrating on ‘quality’ without tackling the issue of ‘traceability’, then it’s simply pie in the sky if you ask me! In other words, there is rampant agro-alimentary fraud present in many products available on the local market, that regretfully, quality is of secondary importance!
Many genuine farmers are constantly complaining to their respective organisations about the fact that olive oil, honey, and other products are being imported, packaged, labelled and sold as local. The eight-pointed cross and the red and white flag are very often symbols printed on labels to attract unsuspecting customers. In reality, what’s found inside some of these jars and bottles would be a much cheaper product which hails from anywhere but the Maltese Islands.
One might ask, but how would farmers and other stakeholders know for sure that there is such ongoing fraud? The answer is quite simple… when specific production is scarce, in a known area of land, one wouldn’t expect to find such products in abundance on shelves!
It was definitely the case with honey and olive oil over the past few years. Genuine producers run out of their stocks in a relatively short time. Conversely, some brands keep dishing out their fraudulent products in prominent outlets with complete disregard for the irreversible harm they’re doing to local agriculture and eventually our precious rural areas.
Unless enforcement is duly carried out, genuine local producers will keep selling their products amongst others who care only about their pockets!