Geographical Indications – a European treasure worth €75 billion

foood markets

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


Agri-food and drink products whose names are protected by the European Union as “Geographical Indications” (GIs) represent a sales value of €74.76 billion, according to a study published today by the European Commission. Over one fifth of this amount results from exports outside the European Union. The study found that the sales value of a product with a protected name is on average double that for similar products without a certification.

Commissioner for Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski, said: “European Geographical Indications 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. GIs are a key aspect of our trade agreements. 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 global level.”

European food is famous for being safe, nutritious and of high quality. Traditional production methods contribute to the EU objective to also become the global standard for sustainability in food production.

EU quality schemes aim at protecting the names of specific products to promote their unique characteristics, linked to their geographical origin as well as know-how embedded in the region. These product names are part of the EU system of intellectual property rights, legally protecting them against imitation and misuse. Agri-food products and wines are protected as Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) and Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), and spirit drinks as Geographical Indications (GI). European Union also protects Traditional Specialities Guaranteed (TSG), highlighting the traditional aspects of a product without being linked to a specific geographical area. The sales value of agricultural products and foodstuffs labelled as TSG are worth €2.3 billion.

The study was based on all 3,207 product names protected across the 28 EU Member States at the end of 2017 (by the end of March 2020, the total number of protected names increased to 3,322). It concludes that the sales value of a product with a protected name is on average double than that for similar products without a certification.

According to the study, there is a clear economic benefit for producers in terms of marketing and increase of sales thanks to high quality and reputation of these products, and willingness of consumers to pay to get the authentic product.

The main findings of the study are:

  • Significant sales value: Geographical indications and traditional specialities guaranteed all together accounted for an estimated sales value of €77.15 billion in 2017, 7% of the total sales value of the European food and drink sector estimated at €1,101 billion in 2017. Wines represented more than half of this value (€39.4 billion), agricultural products and foodstuffs 35% (€27.34 billion), and spirit drinks 13% (€10.35 billion). Out of the 3,207 product names that were registered in 2017 (both GI and TSG), 49% were wines, 43% agri-food products and 8% spirits drinks.
  • Higher sales premium for protected products: the sales value of the products covered by the study was on average double than the sales value for similar products without a certification. The value premium rate stood at 2.85 for wines, 2.52 for spirits and 1.5 for agricultural products and foodstuffs.
  • A truly European policy: Each EU country produces 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.
  • Exports of geographical indications: geographical indications represent 15.5% of the total EU agri-food exports. Wines remained the most important product both in terms of total sales value (51%) and extra-EU trade (50%). The U.S., China and Singapore are the first destinations for EU GI products, accounting for half of the export value of GI products.

To ensure that the EU quality policy continues to deliver at its best, an online public consultation was launched from 4 November 2019 to 3 February 2020 to gather feedback on the policy from stakeholders. Among the key findings, a majority of respondents agreed that EU quality schemes benefit producers and consumers. The ‘factual summary’ report gives a detailed overview of the feedback received from the public consultation.

Background

Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), and Geographical Indications (GI) for spirit drinks guarantee to consumers that the concerned produce is genuinely made in its specific region of origin, using know-how  and  techniques embedded in the region. The main difference between the PDO and the PGI is related to how much of the raw materials come from the area or which steps of the production process haves to take place in the specific region. Famous geographical indications include for example Bayerisches Bier, Champagne, Irish Whiskey, Kalamata olives, Parmigiano Reggiano, Polish Vodka, Queso Manchego, Roquefort.

Traditional speciality guaranteed (TSG), on the other hand, highlights the traditional aspects such as traditional production method or traditional composition, without being linked to a specific geographical area. Examples of famous TSG are Bacalhau de Cura Tradicional Portuguesa, Amatriciana tradizionale, Hollandse maatjesharing,andKriek.

The EU has concluded more than 30 international agreements, which allow the recognition of many EU Geographical Indications outside the EU and the recognition of non-EU Geographical Indications in the EU. Geographical Indications play an increasingly important role in trade negotiations between the EU and other countries. The Commission also dedicates around €50 million every year to promote quality products in the EU and around the world.

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