Food quality schemes
An increasingly greater role is being attributed to facilitating access to a qualitative locally produced food on the local market and supporting producers, engaged in food quality schemes as well as to increasing the share of local goods and services in public procurement tenders. Producers have a possibility to participate in the national food quality scheme or in any other EU food quality schemes:
1. Organic Agriculture scheme;
2. Protected Geographical Indication scheme;
3. Protected Denomination of Origin scheme;
4. Guaranteed Traditional Specialties scheme;
5. National Quality scheme.
Organic Agriculture scheme
Taking into consideration that about 10% of the total area of agricultural land is certified as the areas of organic agriculture, Latvia has possibilities to develop organic production of food.
In Latvia, in 2012, there were 109 establishments processing organic products, producing high quality food. In 2013, to facilitate access of organic products to retail system, there was the State support program envisaged “Support for the organic agriculture scheme” with 954 participants and making use of LVL 400 500. Products complying with requirements of the Organic Agriculture scheme are products conforming to regulatory acts on organic agriculture.
Protected Geographical Indication scheme, Protected Denomination of Origin scheme, Guaranteed Traditional Specialties scheme
On October 11, 2013, a Regulation (EU) No. 978/2013 was adopted, by which a name of the product is entered in the register of traditional specialties (Sklandrausis (GTS).
Sklandrausis is a round cake with a diameter 10 – 14 cm. The bottom is made of hard rye flour dough, rolled out 2- 3 mm thick. Then cake bottoms are pressed out with a round object, sides are elevated. Then the bottoms are filled with layers of boiled mashed potatoes and carrots, ratio 1:2. Potato layer is under the layer of carrots. The ready sklandrausis is 1,5 – 2,5 cm thick. It is characteristic for orange carrot color. On top some cream may be smeared. Its taste can vary from slightly sweet to very sweet. Upon eating, a marked taste of bread is felt due to rye flour bottom, but in general carrots dominate the taste. Sklandrausis is usually eaten when cold with tea or milk.
On January 8, 2014, the Regulation (EU) No.12/2014 was adopted, by which the name of the product is entered in the register of traditional specialties (Scalded rye bread) (GTS).
In Latvia, rye and barley are the most ancient cereals, as they were best suited for our rough Northern climatic zone. Among other foods, which Latvians have on the table during festivities, rye bread is always in the place of honor. Rye bread has been included into the canon of Latvian culture that is the totality of the most outstanding and remarkable pieces of art and cultural values and reflects the most significant cultural achievements of the nation. The words “scalded rye bread” means that the bread is baked from coarse rye flour, using scalding method, namely, a hot water is poured over the part of the flour. This product is even more specific because the leaven is scolded in wooden tubs and during scalding and kneading caraway-seeds and sugar is added, as well as due to its oblong form.
In 2013, applications were sent to the European Commission with a request to include the product “Carnikava lamprey” into the register of Protected Geographical Indication scheme and the product “Latvian grey peas” into the register of Protected Denomination of Origin scheme.
National Quality scheme
Products of the national food quality schemes (hereinafter - NFQS) or the “Green Spoon” cover a vast well-recognizable assortment of products. Late in 2013, the NFQS had 368 participants, including 42 processing plants, covering altogether 140 certified products.
It provides the possibility for producers to produce and for consumers to receive higher quality products in which the general standard of commercial products has been exceeded and at least 75% of raw materials have been obtained in one country. Consumers can easily recognize such products by green color and indication “Qualitative product”, called unofficially “Green Spoon”.
As in Latvia, due to climatic conditions, suppliers of raw materials can lead only a seasonal activity and producers have no access for the whole year to all types of raw materials produced in Latvia and some of them are not produced in Latvia at all, for example, cocoa, the national quality scheme is enlarged and requirements of the national food quality scheme is being revised now. In the same way, it will possible to produce higher quality products in which the general standard of commercial goods is exceeded and the whole processing cycle is conducted in Latvia. These products will be recognized by dark red label “Qualitative product” with the country or region of production is indicated in the bottom “Produced in Latvia”, meaning that the full product processing cycle has been conducted in a respective country.
To facilitate production, primary treatment, treatment and processing of local qualitative products, ensuring that these products reach the retail network, from 2008, participants to the scheme are eligible to the State support.