Defining and Marketing Local Foods: Geographical Indications for U.S. Products
Journal of World Intellectual Property, 2010
26 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2011
Date Written: 2010
In light of the increasing interest in the economic and socio-political impacts of the ‘local food’ trend, it is important to ask what are local foods? If you do not know your local producer, then how can you know whether the product you are purchasing is local? These questions are at the heart of an emerging debate in the U.S. about authenticity and the value of local eating. From the menus of its elite restaurants, to urban farmer markets, to the procurement strategy of its largest corporation, ‘local’ is fast becoming an important food category in the U.S. Several distinct forces drive its popularity and yet, in the absence of certain credence attributes to assure what indeed is local, its future is uncertain and a challenge for both producers and consumers.
This paper explores what defines ‘local’, why it may be important in a shifting globalized economy, and how the term is protected in trade. It suggests that Intellectual Property protection is underdeveloped to foster local food product designations. Cases in the U.S. illustrate that some mechanisms do exist to ensure the specific provenance of a food but that these present some notable challenges for both producers and consumers. Improving approaches to Geographical Indications in the US, perhaps learning from the sui generis systems in other countries, could further the development, protection, and success of local products.
Keywords: Geographical Indications, small producer, sustainable culture, public good, food miles
JEL Classification: O00, K00, Q18
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation