Geographical indications found to double value of agri-food products

Whether they offer the promise of produce 'made locally' or 'globally', all farmer have an important role to play and offer to consumers, writes Elena Valenciano. [SHUTTERSTOCK]

Agri-food and drink products whose names are protected by the EU as geographical indications (GIs) offer a “clear economic benefit” for producers in terms of marketing and increased sales, according to a study published by the European Commission on Monday (20 April).

The study, which collected the economic data from each of the 3,207 GI protected products from across the EU, found that GIs represent a sales value of €74.76 billion.

It concluded that the sales value of a product with a protected name is on average double that for similar products without a certification. This was found to be thanks to the high quality and reputation of these products and a higher willingness of consumers to pay for authentic products.

GIs are designed to protect the names of specific products to promote their unique characteristics, linked to their geographical origin as well as the know-how embedded in the region.

These product names are then included in the EU system of intellectual property rights, legally protecting them against imitation and misuse.

Examples of GIs include champagne, which is produced from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France, and ‘Prosciutto di Parma’, a dry-cured charcuterie product which can only be produced in the hills around Parma, Italy.

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European Union also protects Traditional Specialities Guaranteed (TSG), highlighting the traditional aspects of a product, such as traditional production methods or traditional composition, without being linked to a specific geographical area. The sales value of agricultural products and foodstuffs labelled as TSG were found to be worth €2.3 billion.

Out of the 3,207 product names registered as either GI or TSG in 2017, 49% were wines, 43% agri-food products and 8% spirits drinks.

Wines were found to be the most important product both in terms of total sales value (51%) and extra-EU trade (50%).

EU Commissioner for Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski, said that European GIs “reflect the wealth and diversity of products that our agricultural sector has to offer.”

“Producers’ benefits are clear. They can sell products at a higher value, to consumers looking for authentic regional products,” he said.

He added that they are a key aspect of trade agreements, with the study pointing out that over one-fifth of the total sales amount resulted from exports outside the EU and that GIs represent 15.5% of the total EU agri-food exports.

The study found that the US, China and Singapore were the top destinations for EU GI products, accounting for half of the export value of GI products.

“By protecting products across the globe, we prevent fraudulent use of product names and we preserve the good reputation of European agri-food and drink products. Geographical indications protect local value at the global level,” Wojciechowski said.

To date, the EU has concluded more than 30 international agreements which ensure the recognition of many EU GIs outside the EU and of non-EU GIs in the EU.

A statement on the EU Commission website said that GIs represent a “truly European policy” which enables each EU country to produce products whose names are protected at EU level and “serve as flagships for the traditional culinary heritage of regions and as economic drivers for the national agri-food sector.”

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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