The French National Institute of Origin and Quality (INAO), a public agency under the authority of the French Ministry of Agriculture, which implements public policies relating to official signs of quality and origin ( geographic indications, “red label,” organic farming) , released its report detailing actions taken in 2015, the year of the organization’s 80th birthday.
The year 2015 was marked by a number of major events in the world of geographic indications in France. This included the establishment of several new agricultural products with protected geographic indication or protected designation of origin status, the continued expansion of signs of quality and origin into the horticultural sector, and a renewed focus on environmental policies.
In 2015, seven new products were granted protected geographic indication status, including the Lacaune sausage from southwestern France (long renowned for its quality), the Menton lemon, and the Roussillon artichoke. Present in southern France since the 17th century, the Roussillon artichoke has been recognized multiple times for its superior taste and the deep connection to its territory and the people who live there. It composes a significant proportion of the agricultural production area of the region and has long played a central role in local Catalonian cuisine.
Additionally, signs of quality and origin further expanded into the domain of horticultural products. Although these products have long been eligible for protection, it wasn’t until relatively recently that the industry began to apply for signs of quality and origin. In 2015, a Red Label sample specification was approved for rose garden plants and an application started for cut Christmas trees. Work also advanced on geraniums, garden fruit trees, and plants like hortensia and rhododendron.
In a year marked by environmental concerns through the COP21 Paris climate conference, INAO committees had exchanges on the theme of climate change in order to update themselves on current knowledge and the issues and challenges that signs of quality and origin will soon have to face. An interesting example of this took place with the Clape wine appellation, which benefits from protected designation of origin status. The production area of this wine is also well known for the quality of its biodiversity and ecological strengths. In a 2015 study, the wine-producing area in the region was identified as one of the elements constituting the ecological richness of the area. Aware of this heritage, wine makers of the terroir committed themselves to taking steps that are respectful of the ecological equilibrium of the area, notably by encouraging cultivation practices that limit the impact of phytosanitary treatments on the local environment.
The INAO also pledged to deepen its reflection on several different environmental issues: adapting cultivation practices to climate change, integrating specification measures aimed at preserving production areas, implementing mitigation efforts for greenhouse gases, and studying measures for increasing carbon soil sequestration.