Harissa with Food Quality Label Tunisia

The Food Quality Label is a distinctive sign owned by the Ministry of Industry to promote products with a specific higher quality such as harissa. When the PAMPAT 1 project started, no product in Tunisia was certified. UNIDO has supported the Ministry of Industry as well as the Tunisian Canned Food Industries Group (GICA) to set up the management and control system for harissa with Food Quality Label Tunisia. 

UNIDO has also supported harissa companies and over 300 chili pepper suppliers to comply with the label's product specifications. Today, 9 brands representing 50% of the national production are certified in Tunisia. These companies are audited by the National Institute for Standardization and Industrial Property (INNORPI), which will soon be the first accredited body in Tunisia for the certification of labeled harissa. 
At the same time, a promotional program for "Tunisian Harissa" has been set up with GICA and certified companies to make harissa known to the general public in several European countries and the USA.
In this framework several collaborations with gastronomic associations of well-known Tunisian
and foreign chef cooks have been established and have been able to generate increased media interest from different channels such as France 24, Euronews and Al Arabia. Today, harissa and olive oil are the only agro-food products in Tunisia around which a collective promotional program for improved market access has been developed.

The various promotional activities carried out internationally have enabled labeled harissa companies to increase the number of export markets by five. The approach has also had an impact on farmers, who have seen prices for their high-quality peppers rise by up to 25%.

The growing interest in Tunisian harissa has prompted institutions to take further steps to promote the valorization of this Tunisian flagship product. Thus, with the support of PAMPAT, GICA has equipped its laboratory and started the analyses of capsaicin, the active component of chili pepper, which allows to define the level of spiciness of harissa. Manufacturers will thus be able to diversify their product range and to develop harissa with different levels of spiciness in order to better position the product on foreign markets. In this framework PAMPAT has supported GICA to set up a panel of expert tasters for harissa. Tasting panels already existed for internationally prized products such as olive oil, but this is a first for harissa.
Les industriels pourront ainsi diversifier leur gamme de produits et développer de la harissa avec différents niveaux de « piquant » afin  de mieux positionner le produit sur les marchés étrangers. C’est dans ce cadre que le PAMPAT a appuyé le GICA pour mettre en place un panel d’experts dégustateurs pour la harissa. Les panels de dégustation  existaient déjà pour des produits très prisés à l’international comme l’huile d’olive, mais il s’agit d’une première pour la harissa, qui se prépare ainsi à jouer dans la cour des grands.
The Tunisian flagship product will soon reach further momentum. With the support of PAMPAT, the National Heritage Institute is currently managing the process to ensure that the Tunisian know-how around harissa production can be registered in the UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage of humanity. This international recognition of harissa will be a great asset to further promote typical Tunisian food products on international markets.
More documents and videos related to this field are available here.

Video about the Tunisian Harissa Food Quality Label

Website of the Tunisian Harissa Food Quality Label

PAMPAT 1 has also developed targeted activities to add value to ancestral harissa production practices by supporting three groups of rural women that produce harissa in a traditional way.

The cooperative (SMSA) Tahadi, which groups 164 women in the governorate of Kairouan, is now considered a success story. This cooperative went into production in 2015 with UNIDO’s support and started producing harissa “ERRIM”.
Avec l’appui de l’ONUDI, la SMSA est entrée en production en 2015 avec la harissa «ERRIM».

Tahadi markets its products in Tunisia and has exported to Switzerland and France. Since 2018, the cooperative is producing certified organic harissa to meet market demand.

Project for Market Access of Typical Agrofood Products (PAMPAT Tunisia) funded by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs of the Swiss Confederation (SECO) and implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in close cooperation with the Ministry of Economy, Finances and Investment Support, the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Mining and the Ministry of Agriculture, Hydraulic Ressources and Fisheries.

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