Recently, it became known that Poland has registered the Galician garlic Czosnek Galicyjski as a product with a protected geographical indication (PGI). Undoubtedly, the population of Poland and Ukraine may hear about Galicia, but in Germany, England, and even the Baltic countries, consumers do not know where Galicia is located and how this garlic differs from others. So why do we need products with a protected geographical indication?
First of all, we need PGI in order to protect a well-known, marketed product from fakes. This trend started with wines and cheeses. Real champagne can only be in Champagne (France), cognac in Cognac (France), and Parmesan only in the Italian provinces of Parma and Reggio Emilia. Currently, the European Register of Products with Protected Geographical Indication already has hundreds of names and most of the products are still from France, Italy, and Spain. But, this is largely due to tourism, when travelers from other countries began to come back in the 18th century. Returning home, for years they shared memories with relatives and acquaintances, advertising and advising these products.
It is not surprising that there were entrepreneurial people who were ready to produce similar products in other places, and often cheaper than the original ones. And in this case, the protection of geographical indication really enhances the competitiveness of manufacturers of the original product.
A few years ago, Spanish garlic producers were very indignant at the fact that in Europe, they registered Chinese garlic with the unpronounceable name Jinxiang Da Suan, which supposedly creates additional advantages for their competitors. However, in practice, this did not have any noticeable effect on the market. Besides, 5-6 years have passed, and consumers did not start to pay attention to the special labeling of this garlic and continue to be guided by actual quality and price.
As far back as 2002, apple producers in South Tyrol (Italy) defended their truly high-quality products. Germany is their main export market and the country in which they conduct their main advertising efforts. Therefore there is a hope that their apples are known not only to wholesalers but also to consumers. In turn, in Poland and the Baltic, buyers choose their products, guided mainly by price, and do not even pay attention to special, beautiful stickers on apples and pears.
It seems that the means and efforts invested in certification could bring a much greater effect.
Protected geographical indication requires additional costs. Even if the ministerial officials carry out all the work on the preparation of documents for free (this is what happens in Latvia), someone will have to regularly monitor the production of such products. On the one hand, protected geographical indication applies to all manufacturers of a particular product within the region. However, they must adhere to certain specific technology for growing, harvesting, storing and pre-selling, and sometimes even packing products in a certain way in order to be entitled to label them with a sign of protected geographical indication. Compliance with these rules is monitored by a state (in Latvia – the Food and Veterinary Control Service) or a public organization. These rules are often controlled by a cooperative of producers, and often producers have to pay to check and promote these products on the market. And then the question is how much these additional costs are paid to the manufacturer.
The protection of geographical indication has an unexpected side effect. When registering a product with the European Commission, it is necessary to justify how this product differs from similar ones. For example, Galician garlic contains 5% more alliin glycoside than the same types of garlic grown in other regions. In any case, it says so in a publication in the Official Journal. In the same publication, a dry, official language describes a brief technology for growing this garlic. Such descriptions are interesting precisely from an agronomic point of view. Sometimes it can be seen from them that, in addition to the soil and climatic conditions of cultivation, this product is actually no different, but sometimes they come across descriptions of original agrotechnical methods. If in the case of Galician garlic all the emphasis is on the manual conduct of all operations, then Chinese Jinxiang Da Suan garlic is grown under the film and with watering, which ensures its earlier ripening.
Is the protection of geographical indication always justified?
It undoubtedly helps in protecting the domestic, local market from competitors from the outside. For example, a product such as Yalta Onion definitely needs the protection of its geographical indication, and here it is important not to miss the initiative. Whoever protects the onion first will determine the boundaries of the region where this Yalta onion is grown. But if the protected product is supposed to be exported, first you need to make sure that it is known in the export market and will be in demand there. Therefore, it makes sense in parallel with the development of the production of protected products to develop tourism, popularizing these products primarily at the place of their production. This requires money and effort, and this must be taken into account before starting the registration of a product with a protected geographical indication.
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