“Denomination of origin” is a phrase more and more often on the lips of those involved in the production and/or sale of comestible items of Mexican origin.
Most prominent, perhaps, is the push to ever increase protection of the tequila name (formally declared a D.O. in 1974) from those who would use it to sell a product made outside the geographical limits – and at odds with the production methods – set by the Consejo Regulador de Tequila.
The latest product, and number two for Jalisco, to join the D.O. club in Mexico is the Yahualica’s chile de arbol. Friday, March 16 saw the geographical limits for the production of the long red chile – native to Jalisco and Zacatecas – carefully defined by the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI). The IMPI identified 11 lucky municipalities, two in Zacatecas and nine in Jalisco: The former are Nochistlan de Mejia and Apulco, while the latter bunch are the eponymous Yahualica de Gonzalez Gallo, Mexticacan, Teocaltiche, Cañadas de Obregon, Jalostotitlan, Encarnacion de Diaz, Villa Hidalgo, Cuquio and Ixtlahuacan del Rio. Out of a total of 580 hectares in which the spicy chile can be produced, 260 are inside the municipality of Yahualica de Gonzalez Gallo.
The appellatory victory is the culmination of a five-year push, which involved a legal battle with a company who makes a salsa using the Yahualica name.
According to Hector Padilla, head of Jalisco’s Secretariat of Rural Development (SEDER), a D.O. designation is practically a license to print money.
“In every case where there’s a D.O. the immediate consequence is a raising of value. The market puts a higher price on what’s produced under a D.O. and people will pay more for this distinction,” said Padilla.
The next step for those under the Yahualica D.O. flag will be the creation of a regulatory council peopled by Yahualica producers, says IMPI Director General Miguel Ángel Margáin, who waxed slightly less euphoric and more cautiously reserved than his counterpart at SEDER.
“This won’t automatically mean that the price of the Yahualica chile will skyrocket,” said Margáin. “And it will in no way mean that importation of other chiles will be prohibited.”
With the addition of the Yahualica chile, the roster of D.O.-protected products in Mexico now numbers at 16. Others include mescal, amber from Chiapas, rice from the state of Morelos and the habanero chile grown in the Yucatan.