Do you know that today, more than 100 Chinese food products are protected in Europe?
An agreement between the EU and the PRC protects around 200 iconic European and Chinese goods against imitation and misuse, recognizing 100 Geographical Indications each.
In China, attention to food safety and high-quality food go hand in hand more and more. The process is already underway: facing a growing middle class that develop new culinary tastes, the Chinese market is opening up to a growing internationalization. The European Union can contribute to this process in a country by offering the heritage of its food culture and control techniques accumulated over decades of experience. But Chinese product Chinese products do not lay behind and ask that they are protected as well once national borders are crossed.
How? They did the old-fashioned way: an agreement. EU-China cooperation on Geographical Indications began over a decade ago in 2006. Subsequently, in 2012, the first registration and protection of 10 Geographical Indications by both sides laid the foundations for today’s cooperation.
Indeed, on 1 March 2021, the agreement between the government of the PRC and the EU on the cooperation on, and protection of, geographical indications (“the EU-China GIs Agreement”) came into effect. The EU-China GIs Agreement protects around 200 European and Chinese goods against imitation and misuse, recognizing 100 Geographical Indications (“GI”) each from the European Union and China, with a second batch to follow that will include an additional 175 GIs each from the EU and China within four years.
But let take a step back. What are Geographical Indications?
The GI system is a special product quality control system and an intellectual property protection system adopted for famous, excellent, and special products with distinctive regional characteristics. The “origin” refers to the specific geographic region of a particular country where a special product is produced, the geographical features and cultural characteristics of the specific geographic region, such as the water, soil, climate, production history, etc., will directly determine or affect the quality, characteristics, or reputation of the product.
Why is this agreement so important?
This agreement is considered to be “historic” for the industry and it will lead to mutual commercial benefits and a demand for high quality products on both sides. Indeed, the agreement constitutes a concrete example of cooperation between the European Union and the People’s Republic of China and reflects the spirit of openness on both sides and their adherence to international standards.
The Chinese market has high-growth potential for European food and beverages. In 2019, China was the third destination for EU agri-food products, reaching €14.5 billion. It is also the second destination of EU exports of products protected as Geographical Indications, accounting for 9% by value, including wines, agri-food products and spirit drinks. In addition, European consumers will be able to discover genuine Chinese specialties thanks to this agreement (Source: European Commission).
What about the Chinese products?
The list of Chinese GIs to be protected in Europe includes iconic food products such as:
- Pixian Douban Chili Paste 郫县豆瓣
Pixian bean paste is the soul of Sichuan cuisine. The most famous paste comes from Pixian in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province. It is a bright thick paste made from fermented broad beans, fresh chili peppers, flour, and salt. Did you know that about half of Sichuan foods are cooked with doubanjiang?
- Panjin Rice 盘锦大米
As an old Chinese saying goes, “Without rice, even the cleverest housewife can’t cook”. Panjin rice is a special type of white rice cultivated in the area of Liaohe Delta in Northern China. For its aromatic, soft, slightly sweet, and slightly sticky texture it is considered one of the best rice species in the world. Did you know that Panjin rice was designated the official rice during the Beijing 2008 Olympics?
- Anji White Tea 安吉白茶
It is called “white” tea although it is green tea. The harvest for Anji White Tea is short because its tea leaves mature quicker than most other tea varieties. It usually takes 30 days to pick and process their entire crop. Did you know that Anji White Tea was believed to be extinct from the first half of the 20th century? Today, Anji White Tea is one of the most coveted and rarest tea varieties in China.
- Sichuan Style Pickles 四川泡菜
The world population is divided between pickles haters and people who genuinely adore them. I bet you never tried Sichuan Style Pickles. Pickles from Sichuan are another level. If done properly, they’re a perfect blend of sour and fragrant flavors, with quite a bit of crunch. Did you know that many families in Sichuan keep pickle jars in their kitchen, nurturing them with constant attention and care?
- Wuchuan Mooncake 吴川月饼
Indispensable Chinese dessert, Mooncakes are known all over the world, but few people know that there is a city called the “Land of Chinese mooncakes”. People from Wuchuan, Guangdong, make these bakery delicacies passed down from the Southern Song Dynasty where they originated more than 900 years ago. How many days until Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋節)?
- Anqiu Ginger 安丘大姜
Anqiu ginger is a specialty of Anqiu City, Shandong Province. Anqiu’s ginger output makes up 20% of the national total and accounts for about 60% of China’s total ginger exports. After nearly 500 years of selection and cultivation, Anqiu ginger has the characteristics of bright color, compact structure, small size and small silk, and spicy fragrance. Perfect to give your dishes a pungent twist.
If you want to know more about the products, here you can find the list of Chinese Geographical Indications protected: