• What is traceability or origin?

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    CHIT JUAN

    CHIT JUAN

    DENOMINACION DE ORIGEN or D.O. has long been a standard for good wine as we see bottles command higher prices when their labels state their origin or provenance.

    Geographical Indication or G.I. Is now also a mark that commands value or added premium when the provenance or place of origin is indicated on the label of not just wine but food products as well. In fact the Intellectual Property Office or IPO now promotes the registration of the GI of products like coffee (ex: Cordillera coffee as coming from the CAR).

    Consumers have long seen the value of origin as seen with our popular Manila paper, Manila clams, Manila rope or hemp and even Manton de Manila ( a shawl made by hand in Manila and sold in Spain). Sadly now Manila’s name no longer has the cache of 300 years ago.

    Manileños today in fact like the opposite now: French butter, Japanese curry or Spanish sardines to state a better or higher quality product. The descriptor is equal to higher value or added premium for some ordinary everyday product.

    But this is a good development for both farmers and consumers alike. Farmers will now be extra careful with their produce as they will put their names or their town’s name on it. Consumers likewise will know where their food comes from. And will have the choice of origin for something like mango, pineapples and yes,coffee of course.

    Globally, coffee consumers and traders are hot about origins. They want to know where the beans come from. And for some, who is the farmer. Where is this town called Quindio located? Or Atok? Or Kapatagan?

    The farmer also now gets to put his name if he is mighty proud of his produce.

    Yes this is the time for transparency and traceability. And it’s good for all of us. To know who harvested the coffee and which town he or she is from.

    If the farmers pool their harvest they can still brand it with their sitio, barangay or town. Some do not have enough harvest to be able to trade in volumes. So the answer is to pool or gather produce and label it as a group or with geographical indication .

    Why is this important to today’s consumer? One is safety. We want to know who grows our food. Second is Sustainability. Farmers who do well will continue to sell their products to consumers aware of the importance of transparency and traceability .

    So why do consumers pay more for products that are traceable? Because it’s about loving oneself by eating safe products and caring for the producer who tills the land. It’s a win-win situation.

    So now, it’s not just coffee though like wine coffee will continue to trace its origin for a particular flavor profile that is important to many buyers. After all why pay more if it does not taste good?

    Even rice is also being traced to origin especially the heirloom varieties and those grown in more challenging fields like in the terraces. Or rice that is grown symbiotically with ducks in sustainable models like rice-duck farming.

    Cacao is also being traced to origins for particular flavor profiles. Where Criollo from Bataan or Bohol are getting premium for its unique flavor. While Davao is now know for fermented process to produce good quality cocoa.

    Next time you buy what seems to be a commodity to you, check for origin and check for traceability. This way farmers will be encouraged to bring you only the best produce that is cared for from bean to brew, from bean to bar and from seed to cup.

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    Chit Juan is a founder and owner of ECHOStore sustainable lifestyle, ECHOmarket sustainable farms and ECHOcafe in Serendra , Podium, Centris QC mall, Davao, Cebu City and Antipolo City. She also is President of the Women’s Business Council of the Philippines and President of the Philippine Coffee Board Inc., two non-profits close to her heart. She often speaks to corporates and NGOs on sustainability, women empowerment, and coffee. You can follow her on twitter.com/chitjuan or find her on facebook:Pacita “Chit” Juan. Email her at puj@echostore.ph

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