The 10 Plus 10 Project, aimed at protecting famous EU food products in China in return for the same favor for ten Chinese foods in Europe, has been completed. The inclusion of two Spanish olive oils, among other products, ensures protected status for these foods when sold on the Chinese market.

The project, which began in July 2007, was the result of formal application for the protection of Geographical Indications (GIs) by China and the EU in each other’s regions. Geographical indications mean that the name of the region, place or country from which the product originates can be used to describe the food, as long as the geographical link occurs in at least one of the production, processing or preparation stages. GIs are not only an important marketing tool, but also serve to protect from imitations.

To obtain a GI, a product must have specific qualities or characteristics that are associated with the geographical area, as well as have some stage of their production taking place in the area. China has a similar system for the protection of foods according to geographical location, however with differing procedures, and a language barrier had to be overcome before the project could be finalized, according to reports.

The ten EU foods that have been granted protected status in China include names such as “Grana Padano” and “Prosciutto di Parma,” while Chinese products “Pinggu da Tao” (peach) and “Dongshan Bai Lu San” (asparagus) are on the reciprocal list.

Along with various Italian, French and Great British foods, are Spanish olive oils produced under the names “Sierra Mágina” and “Priego de Córdoba,” which will now enjoy protected status in China. The two areas, located in the southern Spanish regions of Jaén and Córdoba, are famed for their high quality extra virgin olive oils and have both held Protected Denomination of Origin (PDO) status since 1999.

The PDO “Sierra Mágina” protects olive oils made from Picual and Manzanillo varieties in the national park of the same name, located in the southern part of the Jaén province,while the PDO “Priego de Córdoba” includes olive oil produced in Priego de Córdoba itself as well as various surrounding areas. The oil in this area is made from Picual, Picuda and Hojiblanca varieties. Both areas export a substantial amount of extra virgin olive oil to China, in particular via the Magnsur Group, who are responsible for marketing olive oil under the Sierra Mágina PDO, and who recently launched their third brand in the Chinese market.

The Chinese market, importing around 60,000 tonnes of extra virgin olive oil a year of which 50 percent is from Spain, is of great importance for Spanish olive oil producers. The protection provided by the GI status for some oils promises to reduce the risk of imitations on the market and can also be used as a selling point to increase sales in this growing market.

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