The European Union (EU) on August 23 handed over a certificate to the Western Cape Rooibos industry recognising its registration for Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) in the EU.
Rooibos is now the first African product to receive PDO status from the EU.
Presiding over the handover ceremony, Western Cape Premier Alan Winde welcomed the collaboration between the provincial government, the rooibos industry and the EU in ensuring rooibos is registered as a PDO.
A PDO identifies and links a product to a region, associating its quality and reputation to that area. Rooibos now receives the same protections as champagne and parmigiano, creating greater production recognition and demand, and thereby stimulating job creation.
Winde said food products listed on the EU register of PDOs generate almost R1.24-trillion in value. He added that there was significant demand for rooibos in Europe.
“Among rooibos’ top importers in the EU are Germany, the Netherlands, France, Belgium and Italy. We look forward to seeing the economic impact that PDO registration will have on this important industry and its revenue stream. I commend all the stakeholders involved who have played their part in making this a reality,” Winde commented.
He noted that there was a close connection between rooibos, the area where it grows and the community and their traditions.
“Our goal is to protect, support and promote the sustainability of not only rooibos, but the rich heritage of the industry as a whole, which is why we so doggedly pursued the registration.
"Rooibos also forms part of South Africa’s rich biodiversity and we believe that the registration will make way for other indigenous species, such as Buchu and Aloe ferox to also be indicated as PDOs and reap similar rewards,” he noted.
Rooibos producers will now be able to include a PDO logo for rooibos on their products. The registration further means that rooibos can only be used to refer to the dried leaves of pure rooibos, farmed in the relevant municipalities of the Western and Northern Cape.
“Rooibos is one of the most iconic products of the Western Cape. Its inclusion in the EU’s Geographical Indication Register will signal its unique quality to consumers, not only in Europe but worldwide.
"It will also enable South African producers to market their products better in the EU. We expect this to increase demand by discerning consumers, with the benefits eventually trickling back to farms in the designated production area. Safeguarding our traditions and culture will undoubtedly advance the Rooibos industry’s commercial interests and lead to an increase in production, exports and jobs.” said Winde.
The Western Cape government is further exploring how other products, including Cape Flora (such as Proteas), Honeybush, Buchu, Aloe Ferox, Karoo Granate and Karoo lam, from the province can receive the same protections.