Croatian authorities filled an objection with the European Commission on Slovenia's proposal to be named as the origin country of the popular sausage.
By Drazen Remikovic for Southeast European Times in Zagreb -- 29/08/12
The popular Kranjska sausage is produced in Croatia and Slovenia. [Reuters]
Slovenia and Croatia are going head to head over the origin rights of the popular sausage, Kranjska Klobasa, after Slovenia filed for an EU Protected Designation of Origin status for the meat product.
Croatian officials filed an objection last week with the European Commission to Slovenia's claim, leaving it up to Brussels to try to resolve the dispute.
"The Croatian Chamber of business and producers of Kranjska sausage have collected all the relevant historical evidence on which the complaint is based, and the ministry of agriculture will contribute [to help strengthen] Croatia's side in this process," Miroslav Kuskunovic, spokesman for the Croatian Ministry of Agriculture, told SETimes.
There's more at stake than national pride. According to the government, the country's Kranjska sausage production is worth 13 million euros annually.
Slovenia argues that Kranjska sausage was invented in northern Slovenia in the 19th century. At the time both Slovenia and Croatia was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. However, Croatia disagrees.
Daska Domlijan, director of human resources in the Croatian meat company Gavrilovic, said that there is evidence that his company has been producing Kranjska sausage since 1921.
"This is a product that we [have produced for] nearly a century .... Annually, we produce 400 to 500 tonnes of this sausage," Domlijan told SETimes.
Protected Designation of Origin status, like the EU's Protected Geographical Indication, ensures that only products genuinely originating in that region are allowed to bear the name. The legally enforceable rules protect many national specialities, such as Roquefort cheese, Gorgonzola and Champagne.
This is the second dispute over popular sausage. Slovenia also protested over Austrian production of this sausage in early April. The countries have reached a "preliminary" agreement under which the sausage will still be made in Austria under certain conditions.
The largest food company in Croatia, Podravka, has produced Kranjska sausage for 30 years. According to a company official, the sausage is registered under the Kranjska name in the regulation overseeing the quality of meat products, which was adopted in the former Yugoslavia in 1974.
"It is a generic name, such as paris's, alpine, vienna's, milan's, bavarian sausage. Slovenia's registration request failed with Austria also, with whom Slovenians reached a settlement confirming that it's not an authentic Slovenian product," Marinka Akrap, Podravka's director of corporate communications, told SETimes.
Croatian and Slovenian citizens are also divided on the issue.
Janez Zduhac, 28, from Ljubljana, says that it is evident that the sausage was named after the place where it was made.
"Kranj is the fourth largest city in Slovenia. The situation is clear, Croatia has nothing to do with the city, and so nothing to do with a sausage. My relatives in Croatia told me that this story is pointless and that the Croatian politicians invented it because they have nothing better to do," Zduhac told SETimes.
On the other hand, Croatians think that the name of the sausage doesn't prove anything.
"I tried both Croatian and Slovene sausage. Croatia's is five times better and it would be really a shame that Slovenians impose its own recipe on all those who produce Kranjska," Tomas Pilipovic, 44, from Osijek told SETimes.
The European Commission describes Kranjska as a pasteurised sausage made from coarsely minced pork and pork fat, with added salt, garlic and pepper.
The sausage undergoes hot smoking and is eaten warm. It has a distinctive "mildly smoky smell."