Australian pro­duc­ers of exported, high-end con­sumer food prod­ucts (includ­ing olive oil) look­ing to secure a larger share of their retail earn­ings should con­sider col­lab­o­rat­ing to secure “regional prove­nance brand­ing,” says a report by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC).

This should allow farm­ers to more effec­tively cap­ture and pro­tect the addi­tional value they cre­ate by gen­er­at­ing prove­nance-based good­will in those mar­kets.- Kırsal Sanayi Araştırma ve Geliştirme A.Ş.

While this approach is rec­om­mended as a means of safe­guard­ing regional prod­ucts against free­load­ing pro­duc­ers from hitch­ing on the band­wagon (some­thing that poses a con­stant threat in Asian mar­kets, where cheap imi­ta­tion prod­ucts are a con­stant threat), it comes with its own hur­dles, in the form of GI (Geographical Indication) reg­is­tra­tions — some­thing only avail­able to the Australian wine indus­try.

The report is titled “Local to Global: Provenance Branding and Farmer Co-oper­a­tion for High-Value Export Markets” and is writ­ten by legal experts William van Caenegem and Lucie Tréguier and geo­graph­i­cal gov­er­nance expert Jen Cleary.

It puts for­ward that Australia should be expand­ing its GI reg­is­tra­tion scheme to allow other foods and bev­er­ages to reg­is­ter as a proac­tive mea­sure against coun­ter­feit­ing, which plagues Asian coun­tries like China and Japan.

The report even cites instances of lux­ury food prod­uct pack­ag­ing bear­ing Australian loca­tions on inau­then­tic goods such as oys­ters and abalone. With food exports to these regions dou­bling to over AUS $9 bil­lion over the last five years thanks in part to a bur­geon­ing upper mid­dle-class pop­u­la­tion (one that is set to reach 180 mil­lion by 2022); this should be a cause for con­cern for all Australian spe­cial­ist food exporters.

In addi­tion to safe­guard­ing the qual­ity of prod­ucts in inter­na­tional mar­kets, prove­nance brand­ing would also go a long way towards com­bat­ting the recent qual­ity scan­dals plagu­ing the inter­na­tional olive oil mar­ket.

Currently, many Australian olive oil pro­duc­ers are already part of geo­graph­i­cal orga­ni­za­tions and asso­ci­a­tions, which would make col­lec­tive regional prove­nance brand­ing through GI cer­ti­fi­ca­tion and trade­mark sig­nif­i­cantly eas­ier.

This method of brand­ing allows for each indi­vid­ual pro­ducer to retain their unique cor­po­rate brand­ing and imagery. The idea of expand­ing prove­nance brand­ing already has the sup­port of sev­eral par­ties, includ­ing the European Union Ambassador to Australia.

Chris Mercer, pres­i­dent of Olives Western Australia, told Olive Oil Times that while there is indeed a grow­ing need for grow­ers to pro­tect their brands over­seas and that grower groups can find strength in num­bers, the fact that GI pro­tec­tion is still lim­ited to the wine indus­try and that over­seas GI brand­ing is only pos­si­ble once domes­tic GI brand­ing has been attained, means that cer­ti­fi­ca­tion this way is not likely to hap­pen any­time soon unless these issues are dealt with.

The report con­cludes by men­tion­ing that while tech­no­log­i­cal brand­ing solu­tions such as holo­graphic marks and QR codes can be used as safe­guard­ing mea­sures, the authors of the report believe these strate­gies are “short-lived in their effi­cacy” and pro­duc­ers should seek out a more effec­tive and long-term solu­tion to pro­tect their high-value prove­nance brands.

This is some­thing that Mercer dis­agrees with, as he believes that tech­no­log­i­cal pro­tec­tion is still an effec­tive mea­sure and that the sys­tems cur­rently avail­able (includ­ing the “Australian Authentic” pro­gram) are more than effec­tive for the time being.



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