Friday, September 08, 2017

Geographical indications become a Brexit issue

The basic idea behind geographical indications (GIs) is to prevent a domestic producer giving a name to their own product that gives the impression to consumers that it comes from the protected region covered by the GI, e.g., Parma ham. It is seen as a means of preventing the public from being misled by producers jumping on the bandwagon of a successful GI and also to prevent unfair competition.

The EU has been favourably disposed to GIs because it sees them as a means of encouraging high quality, value added food production in the EU which will increase returns to farmers. This has led to some conflicts with producers elsewhere in the world, e.g., with the United States over Parmesan cheese.

The EU has over 3,300 protected food and drink products which have a specific geographic origin. Sales of protected labels account for some six per cent of the EU's food and drink sector. The products are sold on average at a price more than two times higher than similar non GI products.

In the Brexit report from the Yorkshire Agricultural Society we did consider GIs, but in terms of continuing protection for British products such as Orkney cheddar cheese and Cornish pasties.

However, in one of its latest position papers the EU is demanding that Britain should legislate to recognise products such as Champagne, Parmesan and Beaufort cheese after Brexit. Such protection should be comparable with that provided by Union law: Position paper

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