The proposal facing the Spanish ham sector




Serrano ham is current. The controversy surrounding the new Nutriscore front labeling system, promoted by Consumption, is joined by the initiative of the employers’ associations Anice (National Association of Meat Industries of Spain) and Fecic (Business Federation of Meat and Meat Industries). Both organizations promote the creation of the protected geographical indication (PGI) Serrano ham. The objective is the reinforcement of legal protection inside and outside the European Union (EU), limiting Spain’s territorial scope of its production and obtaining the intellectual property right on expression. ‘Serrano ham’. This is so because the current traditional guaranteed specialty (TSG) of Serrano ham defines the technical characteristics, but does not prevent the production of this product outside of Spain. In this regard, Anice regretted that, in the recent agreement between the European Union and China, Serrano ham and Iberian ham were left out.

But the project raises doubts. From the regulatory council of the protected geographical indication Jamón de Trevélez, its president, Pilar Álvarez, maintains that “IGP’s proposal devalues ​​quality figures” and it is difficult to demonstrate the link with the territory (“very generic”). Álvarez claims the unique characteristics of this product (curing for 20 months and at an altitude of more than 1,500 meters), and believes that to protect the Serrano ham it is necessary to patent it.

In this regard, the general secretary of Anice, Miguel Huerta, points out that the companies that produce Trevélez ham can already benefit from the current traditional specialty guaranteed (TSG) of Serrano ham, created in 1999, and highlights that “Unfair competition is not possible”, because they are different products. In this sense, he assures that “no one is being attacked.” On the other hand, from Origin Spain (Spanish Association of Denominations of Origin) also express their rejection and explain that «the traditional specialty guaranteed or TSG is linked to a mode of production » while geographical indications and protected designations of origin (PDO) “are mainly linked to an origin or territory”.

In a similar vein, the Ministry of Agriculture of the Junta de Andalucía, led by the popular Carmen Crespo, this week showed its support for the indications of ham from Trevélez (Granada) and ham from Serón (Almería), insisting on the geographic link of both.

Employment and production

Its general secretary, Miguel Huerta, argues that European legislation on quality products has changed and that it will now take into account “The undoubted reputation of Serrano ham” and not just a specific geographical area. In this sense, he argues that the PGI for Serrano ham will be “the first in number of companies and employment in the EU.”

Specifically, the production of this product exceeded 18.6 million pieces in 2019, by the 196 certified industries in 15 autonomous communities. 17% of the production was exported (more than three million pieces), according to Agriculture. Sources from the department of Luis Planas, responsible for administrative procedures whose last word is in the hands of Brussels, highlight that Anice and Fecic represent 95% of ham producers in Spain. In addition, they add, that the geographical indication will shield the international reputation of Serrano ham and clarifies that “the ministry neither promotes nor creates PDOs and PGIs.”

There is less and less left to be pronounced since, according to the sources consulted, the application for the protected geographical indication has the approval of the 17 autonomous communities and the allegations have already been received. Once answered, the file will remain in the hands of Brussels. The European Commission will open another three-month period for allegations before publishing the new geographical indication in the Official Journal of the European Union (DOUE).

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