Part 3: Sustainability of Geographical Indications

Geographical Indications can also be considered to have a sustainability element as part of the system. In terms of trade, it is part of the international IP system of the WTO TRIPS agreement which allow for the protection of intangible assets. It can result in the sustainable utilisation and conservation of biodiversity and it has the social and cultural elements which are taken into consideration when developing a GI protection and management system.

An example from the EU – Some statistics

The study on the economic value of EU quality schemes, Geographical Indications and traditional specialties guaranteed (GI & TSG) , made by the European Commission in 2019 provides an understanding of the economic impact of implementing GI schemes for OLPs.

  •   Agro-food and drink products whose name are protected by the EU as Geographical Indications represent a sales value of 74.76 billion Euros
  •   The sales value of a product with a protected GI name is on average double that for similar products without a certification
  •   There is a clear economic benefit for producers, in terms of marketing and increased sales, thanks to the high quality and reputation of these products, and the willingness of consumers to pay to get the authentic product.
  •   GIs and TSG together accounted for an estimate sales value of 77.15 billion Euro in 2017. Seven percent (7%) of the total sales value of the European food and drink sector is estimated at 1.100 billion euro in 2017.

GI impacts in the EU

  •   In terms of image and markets, Geographical Indications serve as flagships for the traditional culinary heritage of regions and as economic drivers for the national agri-food sector.
  •   The exports of GIs represent 15.5% of the total EU agri-food exports.
  •   Wines remain an important product in terms of the total sale value and extra EU trade
  •   The U.S., China and Singapore are the primary destination for EU GI products, accounting for half of the export value of the GI products.

Impact in Trinidad and Tobago

The case study Trinidad Monserrat Hills cocoa

  •   This cocoa comes from Trinidad and Tobago and was registered as Geographical Indication in the country in 2017
  •   As a direct result of this registration, producers have been able to obtain a premium price on the local market
  •   The demand from the international buyers increased by 100% because of the quality guarantee of the product. This information is provided in the specifications, branding and marketing information communicated by the producer group
  •   They guarantee buyers will find flavour and quality, which gives producers a greater leverage when negotiating and making them more competitive.
  •   In terms of results, there are real positive results of this Geographical Indication because this product has specific guarantees.

Example of GIs and sustainability in practice - Laguiole village

This village exists in a remote area in the middle of France where access to the village is difficult. However, there are plenty of specific quality products such as the Laguiole cheese, the Aligot, which is the type of puree where fresh cheese is an ingredient. There is also a specific breed of cows, “Aubrac”, which is very known for its unique organoleptic quality. Lastly, there are the knives which are specific to the region and have a reputation for quality among consumers. All of these quality products are produced within this region and as a consequence there is no rural exodus as the people have stayed in this territory and today this territory is very attractive. There is a thriving tourism sector where tourists come to visit the village and consume the products produced there. This is an example of how assets of a region can create economic value using GIs.

To maintain these positive elements, it is important to have a system to protect these assets and to defend them against infringers. To achieve this, producers must develop and implement a plan to communicate these values to consumers and to keep the producer group active and strong.

Considerations for the future

  •   The producer group must be committed to maintain the GI system and business strategy developed
  •   The positive impacts must be communicated at all levels
  •   Producers must implement an effective branding strategy using the most useful IP tool(s) to ensure their products which carry the GI logo stand out amongst competitors in the market. This can be achieved through the use of individual trade marks; certification or collective marks; as well as those used for the GI.

Learning exercise

Question: What type of positive impacts can a Geographical Indication have? Discuss from the perspective of the impacts on the product, on the market on the prices and on the territory


Product: it will allow for the protection of the product, its name and for enhancing product quality and traceability.

Markets: it will allow for a better market access because of the guarantees of the product through a documented control system. It will also open export possibilities.

Prices: Geographical Indications can potentially maintain or increase prices.

The territory: Geographical Indications will protect the rural landscapes, and facilitate biodiversity conservation, maintain some know-how and cultural aspects, promote other products within the territory and can facilitate the development of the tourism sector in the region.