The Chios Mastic Gum Growers Association was founded in 1938. It is an obligatory cooperative, representing the 20 local cooperatives of the individual Mastiha Villages. It buys up all the mastiha harvested each year and is the exclusive distributor of Chios mastiha in Greece and abroad.
Today the Association, which has about 4,850 members, is among the largest organizations of its kind in the Prefecture of the North Aegean. It processes, packages and markets natural Chios mastiha crystals, mastiha oil and mastiha water, powder and ELMA chewing gum. Most of the mastiha production is exported, about 70% annually, primarily to the Arab World but also to the US.
In 1997, the European Union classified Chios mastiha as a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) product, while in the autumn of 2014 the cultivation of mastiha was included in UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage network. Mastiha received its highest distinction in January 2016 when the European Organization of Medicine designated it a natural plant-based medicine.
In recent years, the scientific community has conducted studies proving that Chios mastiha has a beneficial effect on illnesses of the digestive system, contributes to oral hygiene, possesses antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, is a natural antioxidant, and can assist in the healing of wounds and regenerating skin. It has extensive applications and uses, which make it a source of inspiration in the food and beverage sector, the pharmaceutical and chemical industry, and in the preparation of cosmetics and perfumes.
Today Chios mastiha is exported the world over in a wide range of products: baked goods, sweets, jams, ice creams, chocolate, chewing gum, candies, beverages, teas, coffees, dairy products, pastas, savoury sauces, liqueurs, ouzo, dietary supplements, mouth washes, dental floss and toothpastes, surgical thread, gauzes for burns, shampoos, body lotions, aromatic candles, essential oils, varnishes, incense and adhesives.
Crucial to the expansion of the Chios Mastic Gum Growers Association has been the founding in 2002 of Mediterra, a limited affliliated company aimed at revitalizing the image of mastiha abroad through the creation of new products which would be sold by a network of Mastiha Shops worldwide (www.mastihashop.com). These shops act as ambassadors for these innovative, attractively packaged products in Greece and abroad, while at the same time Mediterra has opened up additional distribution outlets within supermarkets, delis, pharmacies and health food shops.
We spoke with Mediterra’s managing director and founder, Giannis Mandalas. As he said:
“We believe that the future of mastiha, and therefore of the Association and the company, lies in developing its pharmaceutical aspects. The planning and the production of products of high added value that will incorporate the latest scientific discoveries constitutes our most strategic priority and we call upon all who live and work for mastiha to commit themselves to this goal consistently and decisively.”