From this unique Observatory, on this occasion, I would like to focus on what is definitely belongs to us, the products derived from the cultivation of our land and the care of our cattle; ancestral, timeless, which forms part of the essence of our country; of what was first before anything, that was already there before we discovered skiing, commerce or banking, that has been with us for centuries and that serves as a reference to know where we come from and that has helped us to survive for centuries.
Everyone could tell his story, what comes to his mind or what his predecessors have passed on to him, but, in my case, it comes to mind some experiences told by my mother and my grandmother, in times when the subsistence was even more complicated than it is today, in cold weather, a much colder than now, and where tradition meant that households took special care of everything that was valuable for survival.
How many times we had heard about “lo mandongo” and what revolved around the slaughter of the pig. “Donges”, “bringuera”, “bulls”, sausages, and above all that tasty “mandongo”. Or the raspberry liqueur that my grandmother made, or the topí cheese, which I had tasted as a child, or simply those wonderful truffles that had an incomparable taste, because they came from a loving land that took care of us and allowed us to become big so that one day we can do great things like what we are trying to do now, in the century of new technologies, of blockchain, of artificial intelligence, but also of Km 0 high products, the object of today’s article!
Beyond this nostalgic romanticism, we cannot forget that Andorra carries the commercial spirit in its DNA, and in those remote times, trade was already present in our day-to-day life, both for agricultural and livestock production, which was found in local markets, as well as the expensive but at the same time lucrative cross-border cattle transactions. And of course, without forgetting what the tobacco cultivation has represented for decades and which gave rise to a period of great prosperity for the country.
However, the important changes that took place during the second half of the 20th century required its organization and structuring, and the country’s agricultural and livestock sector has made great efforts, especially in the search for identity and in order to generate value for its production. So, on July 26, 1994, the Association of Farmers and Cattlemen of Andorra was established, precisely to welcome initiatives and attend to the concerns of the sector and defend it in a collective and coordinated way.
We cannot ignore that the market has become increasingly demanding and competitive, both from a regulatory and commercial point of view. Also, the requirements at the health level and the insurmountable process of international homologation of native products have forced the Government along with the private sector to work hard to enjoy the corresponding quality labels for genuinely Andorran products.
In 2014, a very important milestone was reached, with the creation of the “Agricultural and Artisan Products of Andorra” («Productes Agrícoles i Artesans d’Andorra») brand, created and supervised by the Department of Agriculture and Livestock and which today brings together 36 Andorran micro-companies that strive to add value to the brand with an individual and collective effort to promote the different agricultural, livestock and artisanal products with a distinctly Andorran stamp of identity.
Precisely to protect and strengthen this brand, in 2023 a regulation has been created to fight against those commercial practices that can be considered intrusive, in particular when they affect agricultural and food products and induce consumers to the confusion about the origin or provenance of the products, and in short, with the purpose of avoiding fraud and unfair competition. In fact, all the products that are part of this distinctive mark are produced on Andorran territory following traditional mountain agricultural practices and artisanal production methods and the license to use the brand is granted solely and exclusively for agricultural and food products that are produced, processed, and marketed within the territory and following the current regulatory framework.
The brand described has been developed by highlighting our “0 km Products of altitude” based in the roots of the territory, the mountains, the height, manual work, the strong bond with nature, sustainable practices, tradition, rigor, and entrepreneurial spirit. The slogan “In the altitude of Andorra, you can only do things right” stands out. Recently, this same month of August, the Ministry of the Environment, Agriculture and Livestock, together with the Association of Farmers and Cattlemen and the seven Municipalities have promoted the campaign “Here we produce quality, respect the environment”, with the aim to claim the products that are made in Andorra and to sensitize the population and tourists to the respect for the natural environment and its gifts.
Who doubts today that our Km 0 products have an exceptional place in the Marca Andorra and enhance our sense of belonging? This is what the institutions in charge of promoting Andorra have understood and in this sense, for the clueless who have not yet visited it, because it is only for “tourists”, I recommend that you know the details of what indigenous products of Andorra our country has to offer at www.visitandorra.com.
However, we must ask ourselves if our agricultural and livestock production is economically scalable? That is to say, beyond the value addition, more than obvious, what options do we have to publicize our products and manage to export them with guarantees, thus being able to generate expectations of at least recouping the effort involved overturned by the entire sector? The reality is that more than one national producer laments the insurmountable difficulties for Andorran products to be exported to third countries.
This has been a historical problem that has prevented the development of an export industry based on high quality production, which today we are trying to highlight. We remember that since 1990 we have been part of the EU Customs Union for industrial products from Chapters 25 to 97, but not precisely for agricultural products from Chapters 1 to 24. And of course, again, we are forced to invoke the future Agreement of Association with the EU and all the difficulties that our farmers will no longer have if we finally manage to approve our animal health and food
safety regulations with European regulations. In fact, today, there are Andorran producers who cannot export either to Europe or to any other continent due to this lack of European approval. We imagine the opportunities for commercial exchanges with food or agri-food products that may arise if we end up being part of the European internal market. However, we think of the advantage of access to European quality marks so that our products can be submitted to international competitions, as some have already done, in the field of wine, beer or honey. And what to say about the administrative simplification that means being able to have access to the technological control and alert tools of the EU designed to guarantee consumer protection, to which Andorra would have access.
This Marca Andorra Observatory has until today analyzed many of the strategic sectors of the offer that as a country we have to show to the world, but from today it will focus more on the international stage where it will have to prove itself, both in the EU and in the other international areas, where Andorra has to negotiate its presence!
By Pere Augé, CEO and Founding Partner of Augé Holding Group
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