NOM 186 Press Release

Contact: Ceci Norman
Title: Communication Manager
Email: tequilainterchangeproject@gmail.com

NOM 186 TIMELINE AND UPDATE

In 2011 representatives of the Appellations of Origin of Tequila (AOT), Bacanora (AOB) and Mezcal (AOM) acting on the initiative of the National Chamber of the Tequila Industry (CNIT) attempted to establish NOM 186; a series of official, compulsory standards and regulations pertaining to the production of spirits distilled from agave that do not fit into the Appellation of Origin (AO’s). In reviewing the proposed NOM the Tequila Interchange Project determined it’s passing would have been detrimental to thousands of families in Mexico, who have been producing agave distillates using traditional practices for hundreds or thousands of years. This initiative commenced with the submission of NOM 186 by the Secretary of Economy on November 24, 2011, with the hopes of regulating agave distilled spirits made in Mexico. Additionally on November 30, 2011, the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI) submitted a NOM proposal that would permit the branding of the word “Agave.” Since the introduction of these initiatives the Tequila Interchange Project has been working with academics, producers, mezcaleria owners, and agave enthusiasts to educate the wider public in order to stop the initiatives and ensure the continuation of the history and traditions of Mexico’s noble agave spirits.

On January 25, 2012 Dr. Patricia Colunga, Professor-Researcher Category C from the Center for Scientific Research from Yucatan (CICY), helped the Tequila Interchange Project draft a petition to be submitted to The Federal Commission for Regulatory Improvement (COFEMER). In this petition we outlined the changes we deemed necessary to NOM 186. In less than a week the Tequila Interchange Project accumulated more than 1600 signatures in support of this petition.

As a direct result of the petition and it’s vocal supporters on February 2, 2012 both the Federal Competition Commission (COFECO) and COFEMER, rejected the proposal to brand the word “Agave” stating that “…this NOM would negatively impact the producers of generic beverages (agave beverages made outside the denomination of origin), by hindering the marketing of their products due to lack of commercial information on what raw material is being used to make their drinks, which affects not only producers, but also can affect consumers.” This was a small step in helping preserve the traditions of Mexico’s agave distilled spirits. Unfortunately this is still a topic of concern. Recently the new President of the CNIT, Eduardo Orendain, stated “The unfair competition prevented over a million cases [of Tequila] to be sold in 2011, making it necessary to regulate the use of the word agave to avoid distortions.”

On March 26, 2012 the First Forum on Agave Distilled Spirits of Mexico was held in the city of Guadalajara. Organized by Jose de Jesus Hernadez from the Mexican center for research and graduate studies in social anthropology (CIESAS), the Tequila Interchange Project and Paulina Machuca and Thomas Calvo from the University of Michoacan this forum convened to discuss NOM 186. The discussions at this forum resulted in two conclusions: first the AO’s should reflect the Mexican agave biodiversity discouraging monoculture and secondly that NOM 186 should be a fair and inclusive document.

In order to follow up with the agreements of the First Forum on Agave Distilled Spirits of Mexico, the Second Forum on Agave Distilled Spirits of Mexico was held in Mexico City on May 7th and 8th. This Forum was organized by Catarina Ilsley from The Group for Environmental Studies, Patricia Colunga, Professor-Researcher Category C from the Center for Scientific Research from Yucatan (CICY), David Suro, President of Tequila Interchange Project, and Alejandro Calvillo, Director of El Poder del Consumidor (a Mexican consumer advocacy organization). This forum reflected the diverse voices of concern regarding the issues pertaining to agave and the agave distilled spirits industry by including more then 20 producers of agave distilled spirits from outside the AO’s, research professionals from numerous universities including the University of Michoacan, the University of Guadalajara, the National Autonomous University of Mexico, North Carolina State University, and Princeton University, representatives from CRT and CNIT, and representatives of TIP.

The Tequila Interchange Project is actively monitoring the situation as new NOMs are being considered and formulated at this time. We will be steadfast in our efforts to maintain the beautiful traditions of tequila and all agave distilled spirits in Mexico as well as keeping all of our supporters up to date regarding the issues at hand.

We thank you for your active participation in these matters and encourage you to follow our progress at www.tequilainterchangeproject.org, on Facebook, or on Twitter @ThinkTequila.