Aims of EU quality schemes

EU quality policy aims at protecting the names of specific products to promote their unique characteristics, linked to their geographical origin as well as traditional know-how.

Product names can be granted with a 'geographical indication' (GI) if they have a specific link to the place where they are made. The GI recognition enables consumers to trust and distinguish quality products while also helping producers to market their products better.

Products that are under consideration or have been granted GI recognition are listed in quality product registers. The registers also include information on the geographical and production specifications for each product.

Recognised as intellectual property, geographical indications play an increasingly important role in trade negotiations between the EU and other countries.

Other EU quality schemes emphasise the traditional production process or products made in difficult natural areas such as mountains or islands.

Geographical indications

Geographical indications establish intellectual property rights for specific products, whose qualities are specifically linked to the area of production.

Geographical indications comprise of:

The EU Geographical indications system protects the names of products that originate from specific regions and have specific qualities or enjoy a reputation linked to the production territory. The differences between PDO and PGI are linked primarily to how much of the product’s raw materials must come from the area or how much of the production process has to take place within the specific region. GI is specific for spirit drinks and aromatised wines.

Protected designation of origin(PDO)

Product names registered as PDO are those that have the strongest links to the place in which they are made.

Image: Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) logo

Products

Food, agricultural products and wines

Specifications

Every part of the production, processing and preparation process must take place in the specific region.

For wines, this means that the grapes have to come exclusively from the geographical area where the wine is made.

Example

Kalamata olive oil PDO is entirely produced in the region of Kalamata in Greece, using olive varieties from that area.

Label

– Mandatory for food and agricultural products
– Optional for wine


Protected geographical indication (PGI)

PGI emphasises the relationship between the specific geographic region and the name of the product, where a particular quality, reputation or other characteristic is essentially attributable to its geographical origin.

Image: Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) logo

Products

Food, agricultural products and wines

Specifications

For most products, at least one of the stages of production, processing or preparation takes place in the region.

In the case of wine, this means that at least 85% of the grapes used have to come exclusively from the geographical area where the wine is actually made.

Example

Westfälischer Knochenschinken PGI ham is produced in Westphalia using age-old techniques, but the meat used does not originate exclusively from animals born and reared in that specific region of Germany.

Label

– Mandatory for food, agricultural products
– Optional for wines


Geographical indication of spirit drinks and aromatised wines (GI)

The GI protects the name of a spirit drink or aromatised wine originating in a country, region or locality where the product’s particular quality, reputation or other characteristic is essentially attributable to its geographical origin.

Image: Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) logo

Products

Spirit drinks and aromatised wines

Specifications

For most products, at least one of the stages of distillation or preparation takes place in the region. However, raw products do not need to come from the region.

Example

Irish Whiskey GI has been brewed, distilled and matured in Ireland since the 6th century, but the raw materials do not exclusively come from Ireland.

Label

Optional for all products

Regulations on food and agricultural products

Regulations on wine

Regulations on spirit drinks

Regulations on aromatised wines

Traditional speciality guaranteed

Traditional speciality guaranteed (TSG) highlights the traditional aspects such as the way the product is made or its composition, without being linked to a specific geographical area. The name of a product being registered as a TSG protects it against falsification and misuse.

Image: Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG) logo

Products

Food and agricultural products

Example

Gueuze TSG is a traditional beer obtained by spontaneous fermentation. It is generally produced in and around Brussels, Belgium. Nonetheless, being a TSG, its production method is protected but could be produced somewhere else.

Label

Mandatory for all products

Regulations on food and agricultural products

How products are protected

As part of the EU’s system of IPRs, names of products registered as GIs are legally protected against imitation and misuse within the EU and in non-EU countries where a specific protection agreement has been signed.

For all quality schemes, each EU country’s competent national authorities take the necessary measures to protect the registered names within their territory. They should also prevent and stop the unlawful production or marketing of products using such a name.

Non-European product names can also register as GIs if their country of origin has a bilateral or regional agreement with the EU that includes the mutual protection of such names.

The names of various products (wine, food, aromatised wines and spirit drinks), produced in several countries outside the EU, such as Colombia or South Africa, have been protected.

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Other schemes

Mountain product

The quality term ‘mountain product’ highlights the specificities of a product, made in mountain areas, with difficult natural conditions.

Recognising this is an advantage for farmers as well as consumers as it enables to market the product better but also ensures certain characteristics to the consumer.

Products

Agricultural and food products

Specifications

Raw materials and animal feed comes from mountain areas. For processed products, production should take place in such areas as well.

Regulations on mountain products

Report: Labelling of agricultural and food products of mountain farming


Product of EU's outermost regions

Agriculture in the EU’s outermost regions face difficulties due to the remoteness and insularity, including difficult geographical and meteorological conditions. To ensure greater awareness of agricultural products from the EU’s outermost regions (the French Overseas Departments -Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Réunion and Martinique- and the Azores, Madeira and the Canary Islands) a dedicated logo has been created.

Logo example for the EU’s outermost regions

Products

Agricultural and food products

Specifications

Produced in outermost regions

Label

Logo example for agricultural and food products from the EU’s outermost regions

Regulations on products of outermost regions


Voluntary certification schemes

Voluntary certification schemes at the national level or those run by private operators can also help consumers be confident about the quality of the products they choose.

In addition to the EU schemes, a large number of private and national food quality schemes or logos exist, covering a wide range of initiatives and operating between businesses or between businesses and consumers.

In consultation with stakeholders, the European Commission developed guidelines showing best practice for the operations of such schemes.

Download logos

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