Cambodia still has a long way to go in terms of its intellectual property enforcement, and infringement is rife in all areas of consumer products. But a recent news article in The Cambodia Daily highlighted the issues around not fake bags or bootleg movies, but fake pepper.
As previously discussed in an earlier blog post, Cambodia registered Kampot pepper as a geographical indication. A geographical indication is a special type of protection for goods, where the source of the good is an important aspect and indicator of the product’s quality. This also means that only pepper as grown according to certain guidelines is permitted to be legitimately sold as Kampot pepper.
Why would this pepper be an ideal good to counterfeit? For one thing, Kampot pepper is renowned for its quality and as such, can be sold for higher prices. According to the article, prices are estimated to rise to $10 per kilogram for genuine black Kampot pepper, and white and red pepper can be sold for even higher prices. Kampot pepper is also in high demand, and because their GI status requires strict rules governing production and quality control, increasing supply is challenging.
While the Ministry of Commerce has been assisting to prevent the sale of fake Kampot pepper and has been issuing warning letters to illegitimate sellers, the article mentions that in 2011, only two shops were shut down. Hopefully, stronger enforcement measures will be taken in the future to help maintain the quality associated with Kampot pepper and encourage real Kampot pepper farmers to continue production. And for those buyers wondering if they have the real thing on their hands, according to the article, real Kampot pepper should be sold with the green seal of authenticity as issued by the Ministry of Commerce.