Any objections? Protected geo-indication could be on cards for Ecuadorian 'arriba' cocoa

By Annie Harrison-Dunn

- Last updated on GMT

Ecuador may gain exclusive rights to the term ‘cacao arriba’ under European protected geographical indication (PGI) rules
Ecuador may gain exclusive rights to the term ‘cacao arriba’ under European protected geographical indication (PGI) rules

Related tags European union Ecuador

An application to the European Commission for protected geographical indication (PGI) status for ‘cacao arriba’ from Ecuador is now open for public consultation.

Interested parties will have until September 29 this year to send any objections to the plans​, which would see the name used exclusively for cocoa with at least one stage of production, processing or preparation in Ecuador.  

Cocoa from Ecuador is classed as a 'fine flavor' bean, a unique category of beans with a floral or fruity flavor. Only select producing countries including Ecuador, Papua New Guinea, Madagascar and Venezuela are permitted to make such claims, as regulated by the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO).

This latest move comes as part of negotiations to add Ecuador to an existing trade agreement between European Union member states and Colombia and Peru.

What’s in a name?​ 

Legitimate objections would have to establish the protection of the name proposed would mislead consumers as to the true origin of the product on the basis that it conflicted with another name of a plant variety or animal breed. 

Equally, barriers to the status being written into law could arise if a complainant were to establish that it would jeopardize the existence of an entirely or partly identical name or trademark for a product legally on the market for at least five years before the Commission’s notice, or if they proved the name was a generic term. 

In addition, the name must not already be protected elsewhere in the EU or as part of trade agreements with other regions such as Peru and Colombia, South Korea and Central America. 

Arriba fever 

In July this year Nestlé invested $16m​ in a chocolate molding and packaging line using fine flavor arriba cocoa beans. The plant in Guayaquil, the largest and most populous city in Ecuador, was planned for domestic and export supply.  

Spanish research published this month suggested chocolates made with Ecuadorian cocoa beans had a healthier fat profile​ than Ghanaian-sourced equivalents. While the country’s cocoa reputation received another boost earlier in the year when Cargill and ADM R&D chiefs claimed cocoa from this region made the best tasting chocolate​ when compared to other sources. 

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