FOOD FOR THOUGHT

I see different points in which the newly emerging relation between the trademarks and geographic indications (GIs) should be explored. The relation is both economic and cultural by its nature and touches upon not only food supply issues but also identity structure of individual consumers. I have in mind primarily the the perceptions of a consumer that now seems to sway in favor of GI’s and away from TMs in certain food related market segments.

In other words, it seems to me that the consumers are increasingly aware of the importance of GIs, at the same time might even be unsatisfied with the level of present GI quality oversight and that they care about the expected higher standards of natural food quality ever more on the expense of the role of trademarks in food branding. Trademarked food manufactures have damaged their brands by selling only processed food and any brand in food industry has lately become tainted by the idea that it is only applied to the processed foods. As we are increasingly aware of the damage processed foods incur to humans the idea of branded food itself is becoming negative in the consumer perception. It seems that no consumer believes much a manufacturer that seems to treasure their own profits above their health.

At the same time, it appears that the GIs are increasingly perceived as indicating higher level of food quality and the absence of the predictability that branded food necessarily carries. I am not sure if all would agree, but for the food conscious consumer GIs seem to become some kind of a higher order indications, more trustworthy and attractive than the trademarks, building up a higher amount of goodwill. While this segment might be narrow I think it is important for brand owners not to underestimate this shift. I looks entirely plausible that in the future some brand owners might find strong interest of strengthening their brands by the way of sustaining and managing certain GIs in a “co-branding” schemes. How will this be reconciled with the brands need of quality control and predictability remains to be seen, although the shift towards more natural foods seems unstoppable right now.

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