Champagne Jollof Rice

Wine is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented grapes. Different types of grapes and yeasts produce different types of wine.

Sparkling wines have significant level of carbon dioxide in them, which causes the bubbles in the wine. There are many fully sparkling wines in the world from the German Sekt, the Spanish Espumoso, the Italian Spumante to the French Mosseux. The Australians have their red Shiraz and even the Azerbaijani have their sparkling wines labelled “Pearl of Azerbaijan”.

White sparkling wines named Champagne are the most popular type of sparkling white wine and are responsible for 80% of worldwide sparkling wine production. Champagne is a region in North East France, 160km east of Paris. There is a champagne style for making white wine, so in theory, China can use the Champagne method with imported French grapes and yeast and make sparkling wines, they will look and taste just like French sparkling wines made with the Champagne method…but no.

The Champagne makers have strictly defended the use of the name “Champagne” via the Madrid System. In the EU for instance, it is illegal to sell any sparkling wine called “Champagne” even if the grapes are grown in France, and wine made using the Champagne method, but not in the Champagne region. This restriction on the champagne name is also in force in 70 other nations including the US.

So, to be clear, even French sparkling wine not made in the Champagne region cannnot be called “Champagne”


The Champagne regions took the commonality of white sparkling wine and branded it “Champagne”. Then legally protected that name and  marketed their own white wine as different, premium and special (its not), by linking it to Royalty and higher income demographics. It worked, today Champagne is synonymous with premium, class and high-end celebration, you cannot serve just white sparkling wine, you serve Champagne (which is white sparkling wine.)

Why is this important? Premium branding creates more income and most importantly grows market share in a crowed market. Let look at this example below about a village called Champagne in Switzerland. i quote below

The village of Champagne, Switzerland, made wine labelled as Champagne” from 1657. In an accord with the EU, the Swiss government conceded in 1999 that by 2004 the village would phase out use of the name. Sales (of their wine) dropped from 110,000 bottles a year to 32,000 after the change.”

Did you read that?, by losing the name “Champagne”, sales dropped 243%…

Why? The Swiss white wine is not Champagne. (even though it is) so consumers moved on. So, what do we learn? Products are vulnerable but brands are powerful.

Apple does not actually make phones, it designs and sells them. , According to HIS Markit, The Apple iPhone 8 plus with 5.5-inch with 64 gigabyte memory costs $288.08, it sells for $799. How can Apple sell a $288 phone for $799? Because the Apple brand is premium….I can also go to FoxConn (Chinese company that makes iPhones) place an order for 5.5 inch plus with 64 gigabyte, pay $288, label it Kalu Phone, can I sell it for $799? No why? non-one will buy that phone, even with same components for $799, because it’s not an Apple

Let’s talk about Jollof Rice.

I am not interested in who invented Jollof Rice, I am interested in how Nigeria can gain economically from Jollof Rice, growing market share and build export revenues.

Jollof Rice is Rice, but like we have seen with Champagne, wine is not wine. Therefore Nigeria should make a sovereign move and trademark Jollof rice. A trademark is a legally protected word, name, design, logo, or other symbol of your product or business. It is possible to trademark a name, logo design etc. Trademarking Jollof rice gives Nigeria the legal right to lay claim to “Jollof” Rice.

Why is this important?

Organic food consumption is growing, according to a report by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the U.S. organic food market shows sales climbed from US$ 1 billion in 1990 to US$ 31.5 billion in 2011. (by perception there is nothing more ‘organic” and “fresh” than Africa.)

According to Proexport, and we quote “the most influential food product consumers in the U.S. are the “baby boomers”, comprised by citizens age 50 and older, who control 70% of the available income. The trend in this age group shows greater awareness on the importance of healthy eating habits. Therefore, Proexport recommends avoiding the marketing of food products containing high levels of fructose corn syrup, sugar, artificial coloring and gluten, considering that 78% of these individuals read the labels and avoid these ingredients”

Still quoting ProEexport, the “Millennial” generation, comprised by youngsters between the ages of 15 and 33, is another sector with great potential because it is more willing to try new products such as tropical fruits, non-traditional grains and exotic food in general. When it comes to buying food, they look for elements such as: organic certifications, recyclable packaging, products supporting sustainability and a fair price.

From the quote above it showsthe consumers in America with buying power are going organic. thus I see a business opening to position Jollof rice as organic healthy choice. This can only happen if Jollof rice is made distinct from other rice brands in America (such as Uncle Ben’s). This can be accomplished by exporting Nigerian Jollof rice branded as an organic and healthy.

US Trademarks are managed by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USTPO), the Ministry of Trade and Investment can submit its application today, own that name then “walk back” to the answer and build an export market around Jollof rice. This should mean no one can export rice to the US or EU called Jollof rice, (even if its Jollof rice) because the name will be owned by Nigeria. Nigeria can essentially convert a commonality, Rice… into a premium brand…Jollof rice

This won’t be a 10-year plan, it will take much longer, but the benefits are clear, as local rice production ramps up, Nigeria creates another export line that can being in export $. Nigeria has the power of population and Nollywood and can begin the long process of re-branding Jollof rice as different from rice, and perhaps one day in Whole Foods, Jollof rice will command a premium price, bring revenues to farmers in Nigeria, even as oil revenues dip.

Just as Champagne is not white wine, there is a business case in differentiating Jollof rice from …rice

It not easy but it is necessary.




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