World News

Hawaiian coffee wins prize in EU anti-piracy push

MILAN (Reuters) - A gourmet coffee from the island of Hawaii won an European prize for top quality foods on Saturday as part of Europe’s efforts to bolster the global use of prestigious place names like Champagne, Parma or Roquefort.

The European Union is in a long-running dispute with countries such as the United States over the enforcement of geographical names for some of the world’s most popular foods to stem the booming trade in counterfeit goods.

“(The prize) is a symbol of solidarity towards Hawaiian producers and of a shared battle aimed at eliminating all imitations,” Leo Bertozzi, director of Italy’s Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese consortium which assigns the annual prize, said in a statement.

The EU is pushing to extend protection under the World Trade Organisation rules to all “geographical indicators” -- the names of foods and wines based on places such as Champagne and Parma -- but is being resisted by the U.S. and other New World producers.

Geographical names of wines and spirits are already protected under WTO rules without needing to be trademarked.

Kona coffee grows on the slopes of Hawaiian mountains, in rich volcanic soil and is hand picked, sun dried and custom roasted. Kona coffee has a premium price of $29.87 per lb, compared with the average retail price of $3.17 per lb, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization data.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has estimated that global trade in counterfeit and pirated goods rose to about $250 billion in 2007 from roughly $100 billion annually in 2000.

Additional reporting by Jonathan Lynn