Protected Designation of Origin

iberico pig

When you are about to pick a product from a supermarket shelf you are supposed to check first its brand, features and price before taking any decision. In some cases, where brand is not decisive, you rely on the retailer endorsement to support your decision.

Unlike other products, most foodstuffs and agricultural products don’t have any brands or support from any organization. That makes harder to pick the best quality (or value for money) product out of a wide range of supply, only based on our knowledge or previous experience.

Since 1992, the European Union promotes among foodstuff and wine producers to get associated in Protected Designations of Origin (PDO), in Spanish "Denominación de Origen Protegida (DOP)", that help them to market their products better, while providing them legal protection from product name misuse or counterfeit.

From the consumer point of view, the PDO framework identifies products that are grown, produced, processed and prepared in a specific geographical area, using the recognized know-how of local producers and ingredients from the region concerned. Producers must adhere to a precise set of specifications defined by the regulatory body which in turn is approved and supported by the EU.

Note: there is another slightly different designation as well, called Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) that does not require to grow/supply all the ingredients on the same geographic area, focusing on how they are processed and prepared.

Some Spanish Products with PDO

There are PDO in almost all EU member countries, although more than 80% of them are registered in 6 countries: Italy, France, Spain, Greece, Portugal and Germany. In Spain, they are called Denominación de Origen Protegida (DOP). In this link you can find them all.

Some Spanish Products with DOP

There are 102 PDO in Spain and 88 PGI, of which we highlight just a few, as an example

Pimentón de la Vera (paprika)
Located in the Southwest of Spain, within the region Extremadura, this area produces an outstanding smoked paprika, in three different flavors: sweet, hot and sweet/hot. Paprika with the Protected Designation of Origin ‘Pimentón de la Vera’ means the product from grinding the totally red (pepper) fruits of the Jaranda, Jariza, Jeromín and Bola varieties collected when they are ripe and dried using oak and/or holm oak wood in the traditional fashion of the ‘La Vera’ region.

Vinagre de Jerez (vinegar)
Spanning the same area than Sherry wine region (Southwest of Spain, in East Andalusia), this PDO produces vinegars with a color between gold and mahogany and a dense and oily appearance. Its aroma is intense, lightly alcoholic, with notes of wine and wood predominating. The suitable wines to make the vinegar are acidified and aged in wooden barrels, leading to different categories depending on the age, from six months minimum up to ten years.

Azafrán de la Mancha (saffron)
Saffron in the form of a spice comes from the stigmas of a flower called Crocus sativus, once they have been sufficiently dried by toasting it over slow fire rather than sundrying. Also, the threads are required to have a minimum length (22 mm) to be sold, given that it is not allowed to sell it in powdered form. Within the packets the amount of residues or foreign matters (sand, insects…) is very limited (<1%).
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