World news as of late last week, Mexican regulating councils are pushing two agave-related initiatives. If approved, these could have disastrous effects on the branding of agave products, potentially threatening the jobs of traditional producers who have long made agave their lives.
The first initiative is from the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI) and the other, NOM-186, from the Ministry of the Economy. Both have been proposed in attempts to further regulate the industry by branding the word “agave,” shrinking growing zones and limiting the varietals which can be used for spirit production.
If these initiatives are passed, potential problems could arise for consumers and producers alike. By narrowing the growing zones and putting prestige on certain areas, producers will have the ability to use plants of inferior quality. Additionally, over-harvesting in certain growing areas could very quickly deplete plant and water sources. If the changes take place, certain products now labeled as mezcal will be re-labeled as “agavacea aguardiente” or “distilled agaveacea." Values of products could change and generation-old production methods could be overturned.
The deadline to sign the petition to stop these initiatives expired Saturday, January 21, but the follow up is crucial. We will post updates as the petition is received and the story develops.
For more information about NOM-186, see the Tequila Interchange Project.