This week in Geneva, Switzerland, over 75 nations are debating why the ‘where’ is as powerful as the ‘what’ in branding premium products, from Champagne to Prosciutto di Parma.
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Diplomatic Conference is laboring to update the existing 1958 agreement protecting appellations of origin on a global level, hoping this updated language will encourage additional countries to join. Let’s say, the Unites States, for example.
Having formed a career around defending the value of origin in wine and food, I can sincerely appreciate the importance of courting the U.S. and other countries to help protect the geographic identity of products made with passion and integrity for hundreds of years in a specific location.
After all, would you pay a premium for a jug of “Hearty Burgundy,” a chunk of domestic parmesan cheese, or a generic balsamic vinegar? All of these products have capitalized on the name of real deal products by using their geographic brand to label and sell less expensive products. In many cases, they are displayed side by side at retail, leaving it up to consumers to make the distinction.
I have worked in food and beverage public relations for nearly 15 years. I love it whole-heartedly, but let’s be honest. I’m not curing cancer. That said, what I am proud of is this. By defending the value and beauty of products of geographic distinction from Prosciutto di Parma to Rioja, my colleagues and I have fought, and continue to fight to help lovers of food and drink make informed decisions when they’re standing in the wine store, or cheese aisle, or deli counter.
Here’s to hoping this diplomatic conference makes inroads towards a strengthened agreement that the U.S. and other countries around the world can get behind.