Estonia seeks geographic indicator for vodka, strife between distillers

Photo: Postimees/Scanpix
2/5/2015 11:52 AM
Category: Economy

The Ministry of Agriculture has sent a request to the European Commission to register the geographic indicator for Estonian vodka, which if approved, would be the first such certificate for Estonian products.

“The first registration of a geographic indicator would be a great step for the entire food industry in Estonia and a great opportunity to add value to their products,” minister Ivari Padar said.

The certificate would be given to vodka produced from Estonian-grown raw products and made with Estonian water.

If approved, vodka meeting the criteria can then be labeled “Estonian Vodka.”

The request has been put in in cooperation with Remedia Distillers.

The plan has, however, drawn a strong reaction from Liviko, another Estonian alcohol giant. Liviko, who is reliant on ethanol manufactured in Latvia, has said that it will not discard the high quality requirements set for the ethanol suitable for producing its famed Viru Valge vodka, which is sold in 24 countries around the world, even if it means that it cannot use the Estonian Vodka trademark.

According to Liviko, the requirements for the ethanol quality suitable for producing Viru Valge vodka are much stricter that the requirements set by the Minister of Agriculture for Estonian Vodka quality. "Viru Valge is thoroughly Estonian vodka, but unfortunately the only ethanol manufacturer in Estonia cannot provide the suitable stable quality ethanol necessary for producing it. Liviko has the grain grown in Estonia made into ethanol by a Latvian manufacturer that assures the quality," said Janek Kalvi, chairman of the board at Liviko.

The company claims that the Estonia Vodka mark is being monopolized by one vodka producer. "Unfortunately, all Estonian vodka manufacturers will end up in a situation where they either have to give up the Estonian Vodka mark or start purchasing ethanol from a direct competitor, which can influence the quality, price and production volumes of Estonian Vodka," Kalvi said, pointing to serious technical, technological and economic risks involved in distillers depending on a single Estonian ethanol manufacturer.

J.M. Laats, M. Oll

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