Geographical indications and traditional specialities: added value to traditional products

The EU quality schemes protect traditional names of foodstuffs and agricultural products from misuse and gives them added value. For consumers, protection is a guarantee that the origin, raw materials and production methods of the product are well-known. 

EU protection for product names can cover either the preparation and/or production of a product in a certain traditional geographic area or a product’s traditional production method. Protection may be granted to a product that has traditionally been prepared or produced in a certain area or with a certain method for more than 30 years.

Three protection systems

Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) can be granted to a product that has been produced, processed and prepared in a given geographical area using recognised know-how. The quality and characteristics of such products are essentially due to the geographical environment, like a raw material produced in the area.

Finnish products with a protected designation of origin include Kitkan viisas (vendace), Lapin Poron liha (reindeer meat from Lapland), Lapin Poron kuivaliha (dried reindeer meat from Lapland), Lapin Poron kylmäsavuliha (cold smoked reindeer meat from Lapland) and Lapin puikula (potato from Lapland).

The production of a product with a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) must be closely linked to its geographical origin in at least one of the stages of production, processing or preparation, giving the product a special character. This form of protection is suitable for products which have a good reputation and are processed in a specific geographical area using traditional local methods. Some of the raw material for the product can be acquired from outside the area.

Finnish products with a protected geographical indication include Kainuun rönttönen (berry pie from Kainuu) and Puruveden muikku (vendace from Puruvesi).

The Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG) protection does not refer to the origin of the product but aims to highlight its traditional composition or means of production. A product name that has been granted a certificate of specific character can be produced anywhere in the EU but it has to be produced according to the registered production method.

Finnish products with TSG protection include sahti (beer), karjalanpiirakka (Karelian pasty) and kalakukko (bread filled with fish and bacon).

The EU-wide system for protecting the names of agricultural products and foodstuffs has been in force since 1993. In total, more than 1,200 protected product names have been registered in the EU. All protected products are included in the European Commission’s DOOR database, organised by product group and country.

EU database on protected product names

In Finland, the authority responsible for the registration of new products is Finnish Food Authority. For more information on the application process (in Finnish), please visit the Finnish Food Authority website.