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Bocadillo Veleño - Colombia has protected its prestigious sweet with a denomination of origin

The Bocadillo Veleño, a Colombian confectionary made of guava pulp from the region of Vélez in the north of Colombia is now protected by the Colombian Government with a Protected Denomination of Origin (PDO). The historical province of Vélez, in the Santander and Boyacá Departments, is a major centre of production for the sweet thanks to its specific climate, hence the geographically linked name Bocadillo Veleño. Since 2012, the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL has facilitated the formulation of the Code of Practice of this typical product and the set-up of the umbrella organisation FedeVeleños (Federación de Empresarios de la cadena productiva del Bocadillo veleño) in the frame of the Colombian-Swiss Intellectual Property Project (COLIPRI), funded by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and implemented by the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI).

Preparation of the guava pulp before cooling. (Photo: COLIPRI Project, 2017)

Each Bocadillo Veleño is wrapped in dried Bijao vegetal leaves and packed in handmade wooden boxes. (Photo: COLIPRI Project, 2017)

(June 30, 2017) 

This is a major milestone in the history of this typical product with over 200 years of tradition, says Javier Morales González, president of FedeVeleños, representing  the actors along the value chain and eight producers’ organizations. The Protected Denomination of Origin now allows the producer federation to fight against copies, misuse of the name and reputation, and unfair competition of this Colombian confectionary rooted deeply in the local tradition and culture. The enforcement of the Protected Denomination of Origin shall also help to preserve the original and traditional recipe and maintain job opportunities in the region’s small enterprises.

According to the traditional recipe, only varieties of locally grown guavas are used, washed and peeled before being mashed into a pulp, which is strained to remove seeds. This pulp is then cooked with sugar until the mixture has a thick consistency. The moment of reaching the consistency is called "el punto", a crucial moment in the production process, based on a traditional "savoir-faire" that has existed for generations, says Claudia Patricia Castiblanco, a food engineer from the region. The Bocadillo Veleño takes the form of a small rectangular block with a firm consistency and a deep red and white colour typical of the guava; it is then wrapped in dried Bijao leaves and traditionally packed in wooden boxes.

Feeling increasing market pressure and unfair competition over the use of their name and reputation, local producers, service providers and the local government have joined forces and decided to protect their product with a Protected Denomination of Origin. In the frame of the COLIPRI project, the actors have received technical and financial assistance from the Swiss Government. Since 2012, FiBL has provided technical expertise to facilitate the formulation of the Code of Practice of the traditional recipe and the organizational development of the umbrella organization FedeVeleños. Thanks to a solid methodology and thorough experience, FiBL’s expertise has considerably contributed to empower local actors and support a democratic development process in a region affected by more than 50 years of internal conflict, says Claire Philippoteaux, COLIPRI Project Associate in Colombia.

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Tobias Eisenring, FiBL Switzerland

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