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Greece - Chios Masticha Growers Association (CMGA)

Tears of Chios bring joy to Canadians.

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Chios Masticha Growers Association (CMGA) is an agricultural cooperative that cultivates masticha (in English also called mastic) in Greece. Masticha is a resin obtained from the masticha tree. It is also known as ‘tears of Chios’, the Greek island of Chios being where it has traditionally been produced.

Key Info

  • Founded in: Chios, Greece - 1938
  • Headquarters: Chios, Greece
  • Employees: 72
  • Annual turnover: (2019) €18 million

Chios Masticha Growers Association and International trade

The cultivation of masticha in Greece has a long history.  For more than 2,500 years it has been used in traditional Greek medicine.  During the Byzantine Empire, the Emperor enjoyed a monopoly on it and masticha was exported as a luxury throughout the known world.

Masticha production on the Greek island of Chios goes back to the 14th century.  Today, with its unique flavour, it is mostly used in food and is also now considered a superfood.  The CGMA not only cultivates masticha but also develops, promotes and sells new products from it, such as masticha oil and powder. 

In 2014, UNESCO added masticha as a cultural asset in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO.  Chios Masticha has been designated a Geographical Indication as proof of its unique quality.  Chios Masticha Oil and ELMA chewing gum have been designated Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) products.  Some 70% of Chios Masticha’s production is exported, 80% of which is exported outside the EU.

World demand for masticha has soared and now exceeds supply.  Fake resins masquerading as Chios masticha and other frauds mislead the consumer.

The EU’s trade agreements ensure that Chios masticha’s status as a Geographical Indication is recognised in many important markets around the world, including Japan, Korea, Canada and Peru.  This not only makes it illegal to sell fake Chios masticha in the countries concerned, it raises consumer awareness of masticha and boosts sales of the genuine article.

How the EU-Canada trade agreement helps

The inclusion of Masticha Chiou on the list of Geographical Indications in EU trade agreements bans the sale of imitation products and increases awareness in the importing countries of the special qualities of the genuine product. As a result, industry and consumers recognise this unique material from a small Greek island and its beneficial health attributes. The EU’s trade agreements also make it easier to clear customs in the importing country.

This agreement helps trade and strengthens the economic relations between the EU and Canada. It makes business with Canada more profitable and easier (e.g. reduction of customs duties, less administrative burden etc.) and Canadian residents are able to benefit from unique European products such as masticha.

Ilias N. Smyrnioudis Ph.D.,
Deputy General Director & Head of R&D.