So we have all heard that the word “Champagne” can only be used on sparkling wine which has been produced in the Champagne region in France, and that means that all other bubbly wine is called sparkling wine.
This is the classic example of what is called a Geographical Indication (GI). It means that a food, wine or other product is recognised as either coming from a specific registered area or is made with a minimum amount of materials from that region or is made using a process which is only used there. It is internationally recognised and is enforceable by laws across the world.
If a company were to use the specific area on a product which does not meet the requirements, it will be pursued legally.
GIs cannot just be used randomly, there has to specific characteristics which come through in the product which are only from that region, like flavour or colour or texture, in order for that region to be recognised.
It has to be applied for and those characteristics proven and the use of that GI is registered for 10 years, but it can be extended indefinitely as long as the registration fee is paid.
Rarely is a GI registered by a single company, as the benefits are beyond one single business, so the registration is usually held by a group or local council or similar to ensure that the benefits are availbale for all the relevant businesses in that area, like Champagne.
The major reason for going through the expensive and complicated process of registering and maintain a GI is all about marketing and the value that people perceive from that specific area and the name that is associated with it. People pay more for Champagne than they do for most sparkling wine because of the reputation those wines have from that area.
For food businesses across the world, GI is something that must be considered when developing new products and then naming them. Product development can now longer just be about coming up with a new product and sendng it out into the market. There has to be a lot of research of markets, ingredients, processes, labelling requirements and also names to make sure that the company does not accidently breach any laws, including those surrounding GI.
For more information about Geographical Indications, go to