Made in the Cape, a Region of Origin Brand, Continues to put South Africa on the Global Products and Services Map

Geographical Indication

This week, an application was submitted in the Government Gazette to protect the name “Cape Flora” and its globally recognised logo. This is the first step in the road towards Geographical Indication (GI) – an intellectual property right that is used to protect the names and characteristics of products that originate from a specific geographical location.

Beyond the characteristics attributed to a specific region, GI’s are associated with quality and sustainability. South African products which benefit from international protection due to their GI status include Karoo lamb, Rooibos and honeybush.

The majority of agricultural products exported from South Africa to international markets, come from the Western Cape. In 2022 South Africa was the largest exporter of food and beverages in Africa – with 50% of these products originating from the Western Cape.

With global shifts towards marketing strategies centered around regionalism and geographic importance, as well as insights garnered from small business owners in the Western Cape indicating that digital marketing is increasingly key to remaining competitive – a place brand was born. Whilst different to a GI, which is a legislated concept, a region of origin brand defines values against a destination.

With the aim of strengthening the identity of Cape exports in key international markets, Wesgro – the Official Tourism, Trade, and Investment Promotion Agency for Cape Town and the Western Cape – launched the ‘Made in the Cape’ region of origin brand. Promoting products and services that tell the unique story of place, the brand story outlines the Western Cape’s unique territory of origin – taking into consideration the holistic combination of soil, the Mediterranean climate, topography, and the ‘soul’ of the producer.

Pioneering trade innovation and responding to a disrupted global supply chain environment, Wesgro’s ‘Made in the Cape’ brand, has been significant in providing increased engagement and visibility for local exporters through new, smart ways. Driving to the CapeTradePortal.com – the buying journey through the virtual matchmaking platform reinforces the Cape’s diverse and powerful exports basket with the click of a button.

Exports connected to the brand are aligned with the values of quality, sustainability, diversity, and trust – defining the brand promise. Other sectors are being impacted by Made in the Cape too. By using product to tell the story of place, Made in the Cape does the job of promoting the destination as a world-class place to visit, where artisan stories inspire tourism.

Every export tells a story of origin, every product tells a story of place.

Looking to promote premium goods and services in key global markets, the ‘Made in the Cape’ digital brand campaign was first launched in the UK, and is currently still running in the US. Underpinning the brand promise, are hard hitting proof points which spotlight popular exported products and services to these regions including: rooibos (representative of Natural Products), citrus (representative of Agriculture), wine (representative of Wine and Spirits), software development (representative of Tech Innovation), design (representative of Creative Industries), and catamaran building (representative of Boat Building) .

The campaign has been successful in driving buyers to the www.capetradeportal.com, as well as encouraging local exporters to expand their global footprint through registering on the virtual marketplace free of charge.

The UK campaign alone achieved a reach of over 16.4 million targeted audiences, with over 157 000 click throughs to the Portal. The US campaign is still live in market, with over 1.4 million views already achieved, and over 60 000 clicks through to the Portal so far.

Locals are loving it. The Cape Trade Portal, which started off with 115 registered exporters showcasing 600 products in 2022, grew to 924 exporters showcasing over 4000 Western Cape products in just one year.

Deepening this effort and bringing virtual efforts in line with in-person connection, Wesgro successfully hosted ‘Made in the Cape 2023’ – a dedicated buyers’ programme. Set to become a flagship event in the trade calendar, ‘Made in the Cape 2023’ welcomed 31 buyers from across 18 countries. At the end of the three day programme, close on 600 B2B meetings were held, with 269 exporters from the Cape. Wesgro has seen how the brand has been adopted by local exporters too, speaking to the powerful intrinsic value of the region of origin.

Wesgro Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer, Jean Scheltema has indicated that for the first time there will be a local B2C effort commencing later this year, a proud display of local goods and services, combined with an innovative concept store that will further entrench the domestic uptake of Made in the Cape – she indicated that the brand is first and foremost a rally cry that we as South Africans can get behind, that says “if it comes from the Western Cape, you can expect the delivery of a quality brand promise, from our home to yours”.

Wesgro CEO, Wrenelle Stander, says: Through trade innovation, we are increasing market access exponentially and we are certainly seeing the results of this. Through the Cape Trade Portal, we are building on the Cape’s reputation as an exporting powerhouse of premium, diverse and quality products and services. In order to remain a sought-after source market, Wesgro believes in being a first mover in order to keep the Western Cape competitive globally”.

“I am excited by the innovative strategies employed by our official trade, investment and tourism promotion agency, Wesgro, which embrace a core value of the Western Cape Government, innovation. The Made in the Cape brand also supports the export promotion priority focus area of our government’s bold new economic strategy, Growth for Jobs. The Strategy aims to triple the value of Western Cape exports by 2035, to boost growth and job creation in the province.” said Western Cape Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, Mireille Wenger

“It is because of City-funded interventions such as the Cape Trade Portal that Cape Town has become South Africa job creating capital. Increasing business access to market means increased demand and thus more jobs. It is also especially important that the platform offers skills development because this helps local businesses to hone their offerings for better buying potential. As a city government, we are deeply committed to boosting programmes that will increase job and investment opportunities and that is why I have motivated for additional funding to be allocated for export promotion, particularly in terms of assisting firms to become export-ready,” concluded Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Growth at the City of Cape Town, Alderman James Vos.

Showcasing the impactful effort of the ‘Made in the Cape’ brand story, watch the case study here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jkG8VIknIPU