Quality hallmarks tap premium produce trend

By Anita Awbi

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags European union World trade organization

In the expanding European premium foods market many suppliers are
striving for EU-approved hallmarks to boost the prestige of their
products and attract retailers.

Consumers and retailers alike recognise the hallmarks as a sign of quality, and with the UK premium food market alone worth around £11.6 billion it pays for producers to gain accreditation.

Since their 1992 inception, hundreds of growers have sought EU Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) and Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG) status for indigenous products. And many more continue to apply.

Soon a Sicilian carrot variety will receive PGI status, as will a strain of Iberian Murcian tomato. A spokesperson for Asaja-Murcia, the Spanish tomato growers' society, said the EU recognition would add value to the tomatoes and bring prestige to the region, tapping into the popular food provenance trend.

According to IGD research, British shoppers are becoming increasingly interested in the origins of food and the quality of ingredients, spending 10 pence in every £1 on premium food and drink products.

And about 40 per cent of EU citizens say they are willing to pay a 10 per cent premium for specially designated products, a Commission survey revealed.

Food manufacturers are now seeing worth in the exclusivity of their product, as the international grocery market becomes increasingly homogenised.

"There is still plenty of room in the premium market for new and existing players,"​ said Joanne Denney-Fitch, IGD chief executive.

"In the UK we have a well-informed, educated population with an increasing interest in organic, fair trade, local and regional products and good food. It's up to retailers and food producers to satisfy our taste buds and our demands."

The hallmarking system, derived from the EU's geographical indication (GI) regime, was set up to protect local food producers across the bloc from having their traditional brand names used by processors elsewhere.

Since its introduction about 700 foods and drinks have been approved for GI protection, with another 300 applications under consideration.

So far Italy, Spain, France and Portugal have registered 478 products between them, and the UK has registered 29.

Producers often see overseas demand for their hallmarked produce rise, as suppliers around Europe acknowledge the PGI market.

Senior business analyst Stewart Samuel, of IGD, told FoodandDrinkEurope.com​: "There are a lot of benefits to registering, such as protection for suppliers against imitation products.

"And customers receive assurances that the products are genuine - it adds to the quality perspective of an item."

The EU now wants international recognition for the system and has applied to World Trade Organisation to get it ratified. But the application is being contested by the US, which claims the system is nothing but another form of trade protection.

Related topics Ingredients

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