The term Rooibos has now been included on the European Union’s register of iconic geographic indicators

Rooibos is joining iconic regional products like champagne and Gorgonzola in getting geographical protection from the European Union – it is being added to the EU’s list of items with Protected Designation of Origin (PDO).

The register protects the names of wines, meats, cheese, breads and more: for example, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Kalamata olives or Roquefort can only be labelled accordingly if they come from their designated region. Rooibos is getting the same legal protection. It will be the first African food to be approved by the EU for listing on the register.

The registration means Rooibos can only be used to refer to the dried leaves of 100% pure Rooibos derived from Aspalathus linearis that has been cultivated or wild-harvested in designated municipalities of the Western and Northern Cape – mainly the Cederberg region. Rooibos is competing with other herbal teas grown all over the world like hibiscus, chamomile and peppermint.

Speaking on behalf of Roobois company, the legal director of  Africa Rooibos Council Dawie de Villiers said the listing by the EU is the beginning of getting global recognition for the local tea. He said the council plans to crack the nod with the World Trade Organization (WTO).

PDO status is important because it offers a valuable competitive advantage in the consumer market. Food products listed on the EU register of protected designations of origins already generate a total of almost R1.24 trillion in value. Bilateral agreements between the EU and its international partners recognize the protected designations of origin.

De Villiers said the application for EU PDO was made about ten years ago. Various processes had to be completed, of which the recent inclusion on the EU register was the final and official stamp of approval.

The registration will allow Rooibos to use the protected designation of origins logo, which is well-recognized by consumers in Europe. The logo will identify Rooibos as a unique product. The registration will afford the industry greater ability to protect Rooibos’ trademark.

Source: News 24