The Association of Flemish Azalea Growers and the Flemish government are proud to report that, following a four-year procedure, Ghent azalea has finally been recognised as a Protected Geographical Designation. It is the first floriculture product to receive this label within the EU.
Importance of the recognition
The Association of Flemish Azalea Growers, together with the Flemish government, worked tirelessly at the European Commission to obtain recognition of the quality of the azaleas. To be able to sell a plant as a Gentse azalea, both the plant and the grower must satisfy a series of strict quality criteria.
Not all the azaleas are produced in Flanders can therefore be sold as Ghent azaleas.
The European Commission is hereby acknowledging that Flanders is a leading region in the field of floriculture and that our floriculture products satisfy high quality requirements.
The following criteria must be fulfilled to obtain the Gentse azalea PGI label:
The azalea must be grown and forced to flower within the geographical area of East Flanders.
- 80% of the azalea’s flower buds must be coloured.
- The producer must be affiliated to the Azalea Quality Project (PAK) and therefore satisfy strict quality standards (beautiful leaves, clean soil without weeds, correct proportions for a potted plant, etc.)
The producer must be registered with and monitored by the FPS Economy.
European recognition offers producers the chance to place their product in the spotlight as a strong brand. After all, recognition gives the name of the Gentse azalea the same protection as a registered trademark. Producers may therefore only use the name if they satisfy all the conditions in the specifications.
For consumers, the European quality label PGI guarantees that they are buying a high-quality product from us.
A long road
Obtaining recognition for the Gentse azalea as a Protected Geographical Designation took a great deal of work.
Some important dates in the process:
- 12th September 2005: official submission of the application by the Association of Flemish Azalea Growers
- 10th March 2006: approval of the application by the Minister-President and submission of the application to the European Commission
- 5th August 2008: announcement of the application by the European Commission in the Official Journal of the European Union
- 6th March 2009: lodging of objection from Germany
- 17th March 2010: approval of the dossier following a vote in the PDO/PGI standing committee of the European Commission.
The procedure which, in any case, lasts at least two years was therefore delayed considerably, partly due to an objection from Germany.
After four years, the European Commission finally took a decision during a vote in the permanent committee of 17th March in which all European member states were represented. With the result we have now!
The European Commission will confirm recognition in the Official Journal of the European Union in the coming months.
Facts and figures
- 80% of European azaleas are produced in Flanders
- Annual production is around 30 million azaleas
- 160 companies grow azaleas, 66 of which are affiliated to PAK. These 66 companies produce 20 million azaleas annually.
- Around 7 million of these (= 25% of the total Belgian azalea production) can be sold as Ghent azaleas.
Other recognised Flemish products
- Geraardsbergen mattentaart (almond tarts) (PGI – 17-02-2007)
- Flemish Brabant table grape (PDO – 10-07-2008)
- Brussels grondwitloof (soil-grown chicory heads) (PGI – 5-8-2008)
- Gentse azalea (PGI – date of official recognition = publication date)
- Belgian Geuze, kriek (cherry) and lambic beers (GTS).