Officials with the New Mexico Chile Association hope this new trademark will boost their industry, citing the impact of similar efforts with Vidalia onions and Idaho potatoes.The New Mexico Chile Association has secured a trademark and is licensing growers and others to use it in the hopes of protecting the reputation and future of the state’s iconic peppers.
Association members and state officials gathered Aug. 19 at the Range Café in Albuquerque to launch the trademark, which association executive director Jaye Hawkins likens to the Vidalia onion and Idaho potato marks.
“Some people are asking why this is necessary,” Hawkins said. “One reason is competition from other regions has been a big issue for our growers because some people have been mislabeling their products and using ‘New Mexico’ when the (peppers) were not grown here.”
One day after the trademark launch there were already 154 entities using it. Most of those were restaurants and grocery retailers, according to a list at www.getNMchile.com, which Hawkins said is continually updated to help consumers and others find authentic New Mexico peppers.
“Farmers, produce vendors, processors and manufacturers” can use the trademark in their advertising, packaging, and publicity for an annual fee of $500, and a per-pound fee of 0.002 cents, according to the association’s website.
Each licensees’ distributors, retailers and restaurant customers can use the trademark for no additional fee, which Hawkins said will give them a competitive advantage over those who do not use it.
The license user fees will help pay for marketing campaigns, promotional materials and legal services to enforce usage restrictions of the trademark Hawkins said. The association already has window signs for restaurants and retailers.
click image to zoomCourtesy New Mexico Chile AssociationNew Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez digs into a lunch featuring trademarked New Mexico Chile peppers at the Range Cafe in Albuquerque. The New Mexico Chile Association launched the trademark at the restaurant Aug. 19 with the governor referring to the peppers as "a way of life."Only members of the New Mexico Chile Association are eligible to apply for trademark licenses, Hawkins said. Use of the trademark is voluntary, she said. The association used a specialty crop grant to help pay for the development of the trademark and the accompanying marketing program.
At the trademark launch, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez described the significance of the New Mexico Chile.
“Red or green is a question New Mexicans answer every day at breakfast, lunch and dinner,” the governor said.
“Chile is a way of life in our state, ingrained in our culture and our economy. It supports more than 4,000 jobs and contributes more than $400 million every year to New Mexico’s economy. The one question no one should ever has to ask is, ‘Is this chile really New Mexican?’ ”