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  • 8-9 November 2007Casablanca, Morocco

    QUALITY FOOD PRODUCTSLINKED TO GEOGRAPHICAL ORIGIN ANDTRADITIONS IN THE MEDITERRANEAN

    REPORT OF THE REGIONAL SEMINARFood and Agriculture Organization of the United NationsMinistry of Agriculture and Maritime Fisheries of Morocco

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    Table of contents

    I. Introduction ....................................................................................................... 4 II. Context............................................................................................................... 4

    1. What is origin-linked specific quality? ......................................................................5

    2. Advantages of specific quality linked to geographical origin for rural development..........................................................................................................................5

    3. Towards a specific quality linked to geographical origin.........................................6

    4. Importance of labelling and certification schemes ...................................................7

    5. Situation in the Mediterranean region.......................................................................8

    III. Objectives of the seminar ................................................................................ 9

    1. Drawing up an inventory of the various quality initiatives under way in the Mediterranean region, highlighting common features.....................................................9

    2. Drawing lessons in order to make recommendations appropriate to the Mediterranean region (North Africa, the Near East).......................................................9

    3. Identifying needs in terms of support and cooperation, envisaging prospects for development in partnership ..............................................................................................10

    IV. Summary of plenary sessions and workshops ............................................ 10

    1. Plenary sessions..........................................................................................................10

    2. Workshops..................................................................................................................11

    Workshop A: Establishment and working of the institutional and legal framework.......11

    Workshop B: Local-level development of quality products ............................................13

    Workshop C: Advantages, constraints and factors for success in quality processes .......14

    Workshop D: Helpful experiences of cooperation...........................................................15

    3. Side events and exhibition.........................................................................................16

    V. Conclusions and outlook for the future ........................................................ 17

    1. Lessons regarding institutional and juridical frameworks........................................17

    2. Lessons regarding local initiatives................................................................................18

    3. Outlook for the future ...................................................................................................18

    Annexes ........................................................................................................................................................... 20

    Annex 1 : Programme................................................................................................................................... 21

    Annex 2 : Liste des participants................................................................................................................... 24

    Annex 3 : Questionnaire ................................................................................................................................ 32

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    I. Introduction The seminar on origin- and tradition-linked quality products in the Mediterranean region (89 November 2007 at the Idou Anfa Hotel, Casablanca) was organized in close collaboration with the Directorate of Plant Protection, Technical Control and Repression of Fraud of Moroccos Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Fisheries, which is in charge of implementing the countrys law on geographical indications (adopted by parliament in January 2008). The seminar was opened by the Secretary of State of the Ministry of Agriculture and the FAO representative in Morocco, who also took part in various sessions. The seminar was attended by 108 people, with representatives from Algeria, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Switzerland, Syria and Tunisia, and from various sectors government, the private sector, research and other experts, and civil society. The meeting was marked by the participants keen interest in the papers presented and in the discussions during workshops. Moreover, the session on the prospects for cooperation opened up the possibility of initiatives at both regional and national levels between countries and organizations. The programme, list of participants, papers presented and summaries can be found online at http://www.mp-discussion.org/casablanca/

    II. Context For FAO, food security exists when all people at all times have physical and economic access to safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. In this perspective, FAO has extended its activities to include food safety, nutritional quality and specific food quality linked to special production systems (for example, organic and fair trade production systems). FAO has recently initiated work to address the new field of food product quality linked to geographical origin. Specific quality, as opposed to basic, generic quality, is defined as being associated with some specific characteristic(s) of the product, voluntarily enhanced by producers and operators, and helping to differentiate the product and create added value in response to a specific consumer demand. Given the growing importance of the specific quality of foods both internationally and locally, especially in terms of their typicity, FAO now hopes to expand its activities in the field of origin- and tradition-linked specific quality.

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    1. What is origin-linked specific quality?

    Within voluntary initiatives regarding specific quality, the identity of products in relation to their origin generates interesting specific features: thanks to the link established between the product and its territory, origin-linked quality allows its differentiation, the organization of actors at the area level and the conservation of local resources, and thus helps to combat delocalization and rural emigration. Typical products are products that have acquired, or are on the way to acquiring, a certain reputation with consumers who recognize the particular qualities associated with their geographical origin and associate the name linked to their production area with a certain quality that they seek. Despite the lack of data about the importance of origin-linked quality products on the market, a growing consumer demand for such typical products can be noticed, in particular through the increasing marketing, branding or labelling of food that indicates where it originates and how it is produced. The more global the market, the more important appears the differentiation of products linked to their origin, not only for export products, but also for locally marketed products in relation to their competition with imported products. This is increasingly the case in developing countries. In developing countries, consumers have a lower purchasing power than in European countries where products with origin-linked quality have existed for a long time. However, local products are very prevalent. With increasing urbanization, origin can be a proxy of quality, eliciting trust in consumers. These urban populations are keen to eat traditional foods from their origin or items that have acquired a certain reputation. The products then gain a reputation that needs to be protected from wrongful appropriation. Localized resources, linked to a specific geographical area, whether physical (local land conditions, landscape), genetic (plant varieties, local animal races) or human (know-how, traditions, culture), therefore contribute to the reputation and uniqueness of the product. Geographical indications make it possible to recognize the special link between the features of a product and its origin, and to inform consumers of this relationship through labelling.

    2. Advantages of specific quality linked to geographical origin for rural development

    Research on origin-linked products, important in some European countries where this approach is already old and increasing in developing and transition countries, shows that there are a number of advantages related to this kind of product. The advantages of this process concern various aspects: economical (added value, access to a niche market), environmental (contribution to physical resources, biodiversity) and social (cultural preservation and valorization, collective action). The process of optimizing origin-linked quality, particularly by means of geographical indications, brings many advantages in terms of food security and rural development. Thanks to the link between a product and its place of production, origin-linked quality, optimized through a geographical indication, helps to maintain and boost local activity, inasmuch a