How the appellation of origin works in Mexico

As of today, Mexico has 18 appellations of origin, whose respective international registrations are in charge of the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property.

How the appellation of origin works in Mexico
Habanero peppers from the Yucatan Peninsula. 80% of the production of habanero peppers is marketed as fresh fruit. Image: Aserca

Mexico is recognized worldwide for its food, culture, products, and natural wealth and has one of the most diverse territories in the world, this rich culture is known as appellations of origin.

The appellation of origin is understood as the name of a geographical region of the country that serves to designate a product originating from the same, and whose quality or characteristics are due exclusively to the geographical environment, and the elaboration of products from traditional methods, linked to the customs of delimited geographical areas.

As of today, Mexico has 18 appellations of origin, whose respective international registrations are in charge of the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI), which preserves and declares that the Mexican State is the owner of such rights over the products. These are:

Grijalva Cocoa
Chiapas Coffee
Amber from Chiapas
Ataulfo Mango from Soconusco, Chiapas
Habanero Pepper from the Yucatan Peninsula
Veracruz Coffee
Rice from the State of Morelos
Vanilla from Papantla

All of these are 100% Mexican products that promote local development, generate sources of employment, help communities, and can compete internationally.

The figure of the appellation of origin is regulated both in national legislation, through the Federal Law for the Protection of Industrial Property, and in various international treaties to which Mexico is a party, among which the Lisbon Agreement for the Protection of Appellations of Origin and their International Registration and the Agreement on Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights, among others, stand out.

For this indication of origin to be considered an appellation of origin and to be protected as such using the respective declaration, it must comply with three main conditions, which are the following:

The appellation of origin must consist of the name of a place or geographical region of the country.
That said name designates a product originating from that geographical region.
That the product has special characteristics and qualities with respect to products of the same class or species and that these are due exclusively to the geographical environment, including natural and human factors.

Regarding the last part of the concept of appellation of origin that refers to natural and human factors, to exemplify which could be these factors, the following shall be mentioned:

Natural factors

Soil characteristics and composition
Altitude above sea level
Human factors

Tradition and custom

Specialization in a particular art or craft
Use of special processes

In this context, a new appellation of origin could be added recently, since it is estimated that in the next three months the Regulatory Council of Habanero Peppers (CRCH), made up of government representatives, industrialists, and specialists from Yucatan and in collaboration with the Ministry of Economic Development (SOFET) and the Mexican Accreditation Entity (AMA), will obtain the Appellation of Origin for "habanero peppers" to boost competitiveness and open doors to new markets.

The habanero chile produced in Yucatan, Campeche, and Quintana Roo is in the sights of U.S. entrepreneurs because, unlike other countries, it is characterized by its unique flavor derived from minerals due to the type of soil, water, and abundance of sun. In addition to providing great sauces, pasta, and dehydrated products, the plant can be used to obtain drugs against diabetes and arthritis.

Finally, the appellation of origin is much more than a certificate to identify a product from a region with unique characteristics and particular quality. It is also a fundamental tool for a country to protect its products from unfair competition through imitations, counterfeits, or adulterations. All products with an appellation of origin carry a guarantee of sale since the consumer public knows that being backed by this indication of origin implies rigorous quality control.