Vital and profitable: European food quality

European food is famous for being safe, nutritious and of high quality. Traditional production methods contribute to the EU objective of becoming a global leader for sustainability in food production. The European quality-signs, such as PDO, PGI and GI has proved that sales value of a product with protected names doubled on average than the similar products without a certification.

Eugene_Eteris_photo
Eugene Eteris, EII Director, Copenhagen

The European Union protects more than 3 thousand names of specific products – foodstuffs, agricultural products, wines, spirit drinks and aromatized wine products – which belong to one of its EU quality schemes: Geographical Indication (GI), Protected Designations of Origin (PDO), Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), as well as Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG). The aim of the EU quality schemes is to contribute to the evaluation of the overall functioning of the European quality products with a focus on the registered names from the EU states and third countries’ products sold on the EU internal market.

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. Agro-food products and wines are protected signs as Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) and Protected Geographical Indication (PGI or just GI); the spirit drinks, mostly wins, are having signs of Protected Geographical Indications (PGI).

Economic value of quality

The EU is also protecting 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 labeled as TSG is worth €2.3 bn.

Agricultural food and drink products whose names are protected in the EU as “Geographical Indications” (GIs) represent a sales value of €74.76 bn, reveals a special study by the European Commission; over one fifth of this amount results from exports outside the EU. Besides, the sales value of a product with a protected name is on average double that for similar products without a certification. 

On the study in: https://ec.europa.eu/info/food-farming-fisheries/key-policies/common-agricultural-policy/evaluation-policy-measures/products-and-markets/eco-values-gis-tsg_en

Commenting the study’s results, EU Commissioner for Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski, noticed that the European geographical indications reflect the quality and diversity of EU’s agricultural sector. Besides, the producers benefit in the ways of selling products at a higher value, while consumers can find authentic regional products. Geographical indications represent also key aspects of the EU’s external trade: by protecting products across the globe, the EU producers prevent fraudulent use of product names and preserve a good reputation of European agro-food and drink products; in this way geographical indications protect local value at global level, added the Commissioner. Reference: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_20_683

“Sings” of quality

Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), and Protected of Geographical Indications (PGI, or simply 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 are taking place in the specific region. Famous geographical indications (PGI) include, e.g. Bayerisches Bier, Champagne, Irish Whiskey, Kalamata olives, Parmigiano Reggiano, Polish Vodka, Queso Manchego, Roquefort, etc.

Traditional specialty 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, and Kriek.

EU’s quality study

Recent EU’s study was based on 3,207 product names protected across the EU-28 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 bn in 2017, 7% of the total sales value of the European food and drink sector estimated at €1,101 bn in 2017. Wines represented more than half of this value (€39.4 bn), agricultural products and foodstuffs 35% (€27.34 bn), and spirit drinks 13% (€10.35 bn). Out of the 3,207 product names that were registered in 2017 (both GI and TSG), 49% were wines, 43% agro-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.
  • Representing “truly European policy”: Each EU country can produce products whose names would be protected at EU level and serve as flagships for the traditional culinary heritage of regions and as economic drivers for a national agro-food sector.
  • Exports of geographical indications: geographical indications represent 15.5% of the total EU agro-food exports. Wines remained the most important product both in terms of total sales value (51%) and extra-EU trade share (50%). The U.S., China and Singapore are the first destinations for the EU’s GI products, accounting for half of their export value.

Launched in April 2019, the public database “eAmbrosia-the EU Geographical Indications registers”now includes geographical indications (GI) for agro-food products, wine and spirit drinks registered and protected in the EU.

https://ec.europa.eu/info/news/geographical-indications-food-wine-and-spirit-drinks-now-available-new-public-database-2020-jan-10_en

Note: To acquire PDO or PGI needs serious efforts: the following examples among the Baltic States (in food sector registered during last 5 years): Kaimiškas Jovarų alus and two cheeses -Džiugas Cheese and Liliputas (LT), Rucavas baltais sviests, Jāņu siers, Carnikavas nēģi and Latvijas lielie pelēkie zirņi cerials (LV).

More in: https://ec.europa.eu/info/food-farming-fisheries/food-safety-and-quality/certification/quality-labels/geographical-indications-register/

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.

On “summary report” in: https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/2029-Evaluation-of-Geographical-Indications-and-Traditional-Specialities-Guaranteed-protected-in-the-EU/public-consultation

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.

More information in the following web links: 

= Study on economic values of EU quality schemes, geographical indications (GIs) and traditional specialities guaranteed (TSGs)

= Leaflet with the main findings of the study

= Quality schemes explained;

 = EU quality food and drink.

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