Geographical Indications Give Important Trade Advantages
Last Year Benin applied for and was granted, its first “geographical indication” (gi) for the spiky-haired sugarloaf pineapple. GIs are a legal label that marks out products that come from a particular region. Benin’s move signals a wider trend. Other places have long sought special status for their fanciest foodstuffs. France and Italy have 6,000 gis each. Sales of products given gi status by the European Union are worth $83bn a year. Why is the gi label of importance to ecommerce? Online sales of these foodstuffs are the answer. SA has an agreement with the EU, dated 2019, guaranteeing gi protection for Rooibos, Honeybush, Karoo Meat of Origin, and numerous wine names like Stellenbosch and Paarl.
On average foods with gi status command a 43% price premium, says a recent study. Benin hopes that gis will not only increase its pineapple exports—the fourth biggest in West Africa—but also make its sales of cashews, shea nuts, and shea butter more attractive. Higher prices could make a significant difference in a country where 38% of people work on farms and 45% live on less than $1.90 a day. Others in the region hope to benefit, too. Cameroon’s Penja pepper was the first African product to receive the gi label in 2013. Sales of the sought-after peppercorn, which is grown in the volcanic soils of Mount Cameroon, helped stimulate a 6-fold rise in local farmers’ incomes.
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