Move over Champagne

Exciting news just in!

The European Commission has approved the registration of the designation ‘Rooibos’/‘Red Bush’ in its register of protected designations of origin (PDO) and protected geographical indications (GIs).

It is the first African food to receive the status of PDO in the European Union (EU) and makes all of us here at BOS very proud and excited.

What does this mean?

Protection for the PDO will allow South African producers of ‘Rooibos’/‘Red Bush’ to market their products better in the EU, and will also allow the Rooibos industry to use the EU logo – which is well-recognised by consumers in Europe. This means that only Rooibos grown in South Africa can be called and marketed as rooibos. BOS sources all its Rooibos from Klipmekaar Farm in the Cederberg, where only the best quality organic rooibos is produced.

We are a proud member of the South African Rooibos Council. They have this to say:

Dawie de Villiers, SARC legal director: “While Rooibos was already included as a GI under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) and the EU, its inclusion in the register of PDOs means that protection becomes permanent. The PDO logo is also well-recognised by consumers in Europe and its use will provide an indication of the value of Rooibos as a unique product. In addition, when trademark searches are done in the EU register, it will confirm Rooibos as a protected name and registered GI, which wasn’t the case before.”

Adds De Villiers: “The inclusion of Rooibos in the EU Register may also smooth our path when applying for 3rd Country GI status in other markets, such as China and India. Since SA is not party to the Lisbon agreement and does not have other bi-lateral GI agreements in place, we intend to use the Rooibos PDO GI, to continue the process with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) to secure the registration on an international level.”

He says the registration will go a long way towards sustaining the Rooibos industry.

“As an industry we recognise the close connection between Rooibos, the area where it grows, as well as the community and their traditions. Our goal is to protect, support and promote the sustainability of not only Rooibos, but the rich heritage of the industry as a whole, which is why we so doggedly pursued the PDO GI.

“Rooibos also forms part of SA’s rich biodiversity, and we believe that the registration will make way for other indigenous species, such as Buchu and Aloe Ferox to also be indicated as PDOs and reap similar rewards,” says De Villiers.

The Western Cape Department of Agriculture is also very happy with the news:

Western Cape Minister of Agriculture (WCDoA) Dr Ivan Meyer predicts the recognition will increase demand for Rooibos globally: “Rooibos is one of the most iconic products of the Western Cape and its inclusion in the PDO register will signal its unique quality to consumers, not only in Europe but all over the world.  We expect that this will lead to an increase in demand by discerning consumers with the benefits eventually trickling back to farms in the designated production area,” he says.

Adds Dr Mogale Sebopetsa, Head of the WCDoA: “The WCDoA has been working with the Rooibos Industry since the 1990’s to prevent the name ‘Rooibos’ from being misused by others. The inclusion of Rooibos/Red Bush in the register recognises the fact that it can only be produced in parts of the Western Cape and Northern Cape provinces.  In this way our heritage is safeguarded for posterity and will benefit the producers in our region.”

What exactly is PDO?

A PDO is an indicator that identifies and links a particular product to a particular region or locality, where a given quality, reputation or other unique characteristic is attributable to that particular geographical area.

Product names registered as PDOs have the strongest links to their origin, since every aspect of production, processing and preparation must take place in that specific origin using recognised know-how.

The registration means ‘Rooibos’ or ‘Red Bush’ can only be used to refer to the dried leaves of 100% pure ‘Rooibos’/‘Red Bush’ derived from Aspalathus linearis that has been cultivated or wild-harvested in designated local municipalities of the Western and Northern Cape. ‘Rooibos’/‘Red Bush’ may be blended with teas, infusions or other products, whether or not for human consumption.

PGI/PDO recognition empowers consumers to distinguish quality products and trust that they are enjoying products which carry a known reputation linked to a specific geographical origin.

The Delegation of the European Union to South Africa (EUD) explains:

Roberto Cecutti, Head of Trade and Economics at the EUD: “Geographical Indications can powerfully advance commercial and economic interests while fostering local values such as environmental stewardship, culture and tradition. GIs possess many of the characteristics of an upmarket brand. Their differentiation from commodities can offer a valuable competitive advantage that is difficult to erode, so we are delighted that Rooibos has been approved as a PDO.”

It is incredible that the rich biodiversity of the fynbos region and our beloved Rooibos has been recognised amongst the likes of champagne, elevating its status in the global market.

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