Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Nilgiri Branding

It looks like Nilgiri and Assam will soon be registered under Geographical Indication. This means that, like Darjeeling teas, certified teas from each region will bear an official seal indicating its origin.

The goals of GI registration for Darjeeling teas were to decrease counterfeit Darjeeling tea sales (which were rampant) and (with an increase in regional branding image due to decreased counterfeits) increase their teas prices. The downside was the certification cost (often a large burden for a small estate).

I have to wonder if it isn't preemptive to register Nilgiri and Assam teas for Geographical Indication. Neither is as well-known as Darjeeling, and I've never heard of problems with counterfeit Nilgiri or Assam teas (in sharp contrast to Darjeeling teas--more counterfeit "Darjeeling" is sold each year than true Darjeeling). Is this an attempt by the Indian government to increase tea prices without building brand confidence (which it actually did with Darjeeling)? Will the increase in tea price make the certification cost worth it to smaller estates? We shall see...

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