SA’s rooibos industry receives EU certification

The EU Ambassador to South Africa, Riina Kionka together with Western Cape Premier Alan Winde formally handed over a certificate to the Rooibos Industry. Photo: Henk Kruger/ANA

The EU Ambassador to South Africa, Riina Kionka together with Western Cape Premier Alan Winde formally handed over a certificate to the Rooibos Industry. Photo: Henk Kruger/ANA

Published Aug 23, 2021


Cape Town - The European Union (EU) on Monday handed over a certificate to the rooibos industry in the Western Cape in recognition of it being registered as a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO).

Rooibos is produced from the endemic South African fynbos plant, aspalathus linearis, and has become popular on the global markets as a caffeine-free herbal tea and antioxidant food ingredient.

The PDO identifies and links a product to a region and associates its quality and reputation to that area.

Rooibos will now receive the same protection as champagne and parmigiano, creating greater product recognition and demand and thereby stimulating job creation.

The certification for PDO in the EU was handed over by its ambassador to South Africa, Dr Riina Kionka, during a ceremony presided over by Western Cape Premier Alan Winde.

Winde welcomed the collaboration between the provincial government, the rooibos industry and the EU.

He said rooibos was now the first African product to receive PDO status from the EU, which would afford greater access to the industry.

“Among rooibos’s top importers in the EU are Germany, 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 added.

Kionka said it was great news that South Africa’s agri-food exports to the EU had grown to just under R40 billion (about US$2.6 million) despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The successful registration of ‘rooibos/red bush’ as a geographical indication will contribute to South Africa not only sustaining but growing jobs and incomes in benefiting rural communities.

“For the EU it is a priority to work with local partners to develop agri-value chains to benefit local development and jobs growth,” Kionka said.

Food products listed on the EU register generate almost R1.24 trillion.

There is also a significant demand for rooibos in Europe.

SA Rooibos Council’s legal director, Dawie de Villiers said as an industry they recognised the close connection between rooibos and the area in which it grows, as well as the community and their traditions.

De Villiers said it was their goal to protect, support and promote the sustainability of not only rooibos but the rich heritage of the industry as a whole.

He said rooibos formed part of SA’s rich biodiversity and that the registration would pave the way for other indigenous species, such as buchu and aloe ferox, to be indicated as PDOs and reap similar rewards.

Rooibos producers will be able to include the PDO logo on their products.

The registration also means rooibos can only be used to refer to the dried leaves of pure rooibos, farmed in the relevant municipalities of the Western Cape and Northern Cape.

Western Cape MEC for Agriculture Dr Ivan Meyer said the PDO signalled a quality product to not only those in Europe but worldwide.

He said an increase in demand could be expected by discerning consumers with the benefits eventually trickling back to the farms in the designated production areas.

“Safeguarding our traditions and culture will undoubtedly advance the rooibos industry’s commercial interests and lead to an increase in production, exports and jobs,” Meyer said.

An application to have the rooibos name protected outside of Europe is already under way as an application has been submitted to the World Trade Organisation for an International Harmonised Systems Code for rooibos.

The Western Cape government is exploring how other products from the province can receive the same protections, such as proteas, honeybush, buchu, aloe ferox, Karoo pomegranates and Karoo lamb.

African News Agency

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