The European Parliament recently approved with 520 votes in favor, 19 against and 64 abstentions a reform of the European Union’s rules concerning products with geographical indications, including PDO and PGI foodstuffs, wines and spirits. This sector is vital to the European agrifood economy, counting some 3,500 registered products with a turnover of 80 billion euros. Italy, in particular, stands out as a leader with 880 products between PDOs and PGIs, generating a turnover of 20 billion euros, 25 percent of the total, employing 890 thousand people engaged in the supply chains. In addition, half of these products are sold on international markets.

The new rules, which will come into effect in the first half of April after the Council’s recent consensus, aim to strengthen the powers of protection consortia, combat devaluing practices, promote tourism related to geographical indications, and protect products from international counterfeiting, including online and in geolocated and suspended Internet domains.

In fact, the Minister of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty, Francesco Lollobrigida, commented that the goal of the new regulation is to defend certified products from imitations and emulations, stressing the importance of maintaining the quality and excellence of Italian agri-food products, which make them unique on the global market and are a key element in defending producers and the Italian System.

The new regulation simplifies procedures, stipulating that applications for new registrations or amendments to product specifications cannot take more than one year. It also clarifies cases of recall, stipulating that a traditional term cannot trace, even partially, a registered designation of origin.

Here are the changes of most interest to businesses:

– Simpler and more efficient registration procedures and faster time to obtain PDOs and PGIs;
– Greater protection of PDOs and PGIs online as well, for example to counter the use in domain names of protected terms;
– More powers and responsibilities for recognized producer associations;
– More visibility to sustainability practices for agri-food products and wines;
– Protection for PDOs and PGIs used as ingredients in packaged food products, with a notification requirement if the ingredient name is mentioned on the label/in advertising material.

“We welcome with satisfaction from the EU the outcome of Italian actions in terms of protecting PDO and PGI products and combating counterfeiting. These are practices to the detriment of our producers that have grown by 70% in the last ten years – the comment Fabrizio Capaccioli, CEO of Asacert and creator of the ITA0039 Protocol -. For years ASACERT with the ITA0039 certification has been preserving the precious Italian food heritage, through the network of Italian restaurants abroad. Our commitment is not limited to certification, but extends to guiding consumers around the world through constant work of dissemination and awareness of true Italian products.”