SOURCE: Colombian Coffee Grower Federation

May 28, 2013 06:00 ET

Cafe de Colombia Is the First Non-Swiss Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) to Be Granted Recognition in Switzerland

GENEVA--(Marketwired - May 28, 2013) - Due to the quality of its origin, Café de Colombia increasingly earns more recognition and legal instruments overseas for the promotion and protection of its reputation and unique characteristics.

After a process of over 4 years, the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC, as abbreviated in Spanish), the trade union that represents Colombian coffee growers, achieved Protected Geographic Indication (PGI) recognition in Switzerland for "Café de Colombia," which makes it the first non-Swiss product that has met the demanding requirements of the Swiss government to grant such protection.

This important advance in the strategy of protection of the origin of Café de Colombia, which also establishes a landmark in the field of Geographic Indications, will be granted by the Swiss Government's Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG) to the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation on May 29 at 4:30 p.m. local time, within the session of the Committee of Trademarks and Geographic Indications of the World Intellectual Property Organization, which takes place in Geneva, Switzerland this week.

"We welcome Coffee from Colombia to the 27 Protected Geographic Indications that have been recognized and protected in Switzerland. The Colombian Coffee Growers Federation answered all of our questions very professionally," stated Paolo Degiorgi of the Quality and Promotion Unit of the Federal Office for Agriculture of the Swiss federal government. "The event in Geneva is testimony to the fact that the Swiss Geographic Indications system is open to any product that can demonstrate good organization and quality controls," he added.

Thanks to the FNC's efforts, Café de Colombia was the first non-European Protected Geographic Indication granted in 2007 by the 27 member countries of the European Union, which allows this product to benefit from special protection of its origin in this important community market. Furthermore, Colombian coffee has complementary protective tools in the United States and Canada pursuant to the certification marks system and, in other countries, is a beneficiary of recognition such as a Denomination of Origin. Switzerland is a key market for obtaining PGI recognition given that important companies that are part of the global coffee producing industry maintain headquarters in that country for coffee trading operations.

The Café de Colombia PGI is a legal instrument which allows Colombian coffee producers, through their Federation, to promote and defend their origin in international markets with legal tools that allow the detention of offenses to the origin by companies or distributors that might attempt to improperly benefit from the reputation and quality of Colombian coffee, a product of internationally renowned prestige; that is, they wish to pass as Colombian coffee a product not originating from Colombia.

In this regard, Eduardo Muñoz, Colombian ambassador to the World Trade Organization, has stated: "Coffee from Colombia is distinct due to its development of a strategy of differentiation and protection of its reputation, which is respected worldwide. Recognition by the Swiss Government, which will be granted at the World Intellectual Property Organization headquarters, is another demonstration of the respect and admiration that this strategy developed by the Federation creates."

FNC represents over 560 thousand coffee producing families in Colombia, and one of its main contributions is the design and implementation of value-added strategies, such as the protection of the origin, which translates into high revenues for coffee growers.

What role do Geographic Indications exercise for Café de Colombia?

Due to an ability to develop collectively beneficial tools around their institutions, the 560 thousand producers of Coffee from Colombia have been able to establish a system of quality and support for the product that may benefit from protection under the industrial property systems. Accordingly, the differentiation and value-added strategies promoted by FNC from its beginning, in a continual attempt to protect the origin and recognition of the flagship product of Colombia, are reinforced.

Thanks to strict quality controls throughout the production chain, which included analysis of more than 30 thousand samples annually in Colombia and 2 thousand in international markets, Colombian coffee, exclusively from the arabica species, has been positioned in international markets as the best mild coffee in the world, with the sensory characteristics of quality and consistency that distinguish it not only from other mild coffees but from other beans produced at high altitudes or from the robust species produced at other latitudes.

The geographic indications thereby become a vitally important element for the continuation and guarantee of this strategy of differentiation, given that they are a protective instrument for avoiding unfair competition in relation to Colombian coffee and a means of guaranteeing the origin to the consumer.

About the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC)
The FNC is a non-profit organization founded in 1927 that represents over 500,000 coffee growing families. Considered one of the largest rural organizations in the world, its mission is to improve the well being and the quality of life of Colombian coffee producers. Under its Sustainability that Matters® programs, the FNC has developed an integral sustainability policy focused on coffee growers that includes productive, social and environmental initiatives. It also develops scientific research, technology transfer and social and industrial processes, supporting Colombian coffee production and commercialization. For more information, please visit: www.federaciondecafeteros.org - www.cafedecolombia.com

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