The European Commission (EC) revealed last week that Orkney Scottish Island Cheddar had been awarded a PGI under the EU protected food names (PFN) scheme, the system designed to “promote and protect names of quality agricultural products and foodstuffs.”
The PGI awarded to Orkney Scottish Island Cheddar covers agricultural products that are closely linked to a geographical area where "at least one of the stage of production, processing or preparation takes place."
Now registered, Orkney Scottish Island Cheddar ranks alongside heritage products such as Stornoway Black Pudding and Scottish Wild Salmon.
Broadcasting the news on Twitter, the Scottish government branded the decision to award Orkney Scottish Cheddar PGI status "grate news."
Commenting, Richard Lochhead, the Scottish government's cabinet secretary for rural affairs and the environment, said that the PGI will help to "guarantee the quality and reputation of this iconic product."
“Receiving the highly sought after PGI status is a real result for the local community in Orkney. Cheese makers on the islands have worked extremely hard to achieve this successful application to the EU’s PFN scheme and I’m sure they’ll go on to reap the benefits,” he added.
Unique dry stir technique
Orkney Cheese Company Limited, the island's sole producer of Orkney Scottish Island Cheddar, applied to the UK Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) Food, to register the product under the PGI scheme in November 2011.
In its submitted application, the company said that Orkney Scottish Island Cheddar “differs from other traditional cheddars due to the unique dry stir technique.”
The cheese is also produced with milk sourced “from within the defined geographical area” and following the dry stirring stage is “typically matured for six to 18 months giving a variety of medium, mature and extra mature flavour profiles.”
Uniqueness and heritage
Commenting on the success of its application, Tim Deakin, general manager of Orkney Cheese Company, said: “The whole company is delighted to receive PGI status, in recognition of the fact that Orkney Cheddar is produced with locally sourced milk from the Orkney Isles following a traditional recipe and process. Production is a marrying of the local Orkney Island milk and the crafted techniques of its forefathers who created the cheese in 1946 and have passed down their expertise through generations of Orcadian dairy farmers."
“The accreditation communicates to our consumers the uniqueness and heritage of Orkney Scottish Island Cheddar, which differs from other traditional cheddars due to its unique dry stir production method," he added.