EU protected origin is 'high priority' in trade talks: Agriculture commissioner

By Niamh Michail

- Last updated on GMT

French and German cheeses, a Portuguese cake and several poultry breeds have been awarded protected origin and geographical indication. Photo:
French and German cheeses, a Portuguese cake and several poultry breeds have been awarded protected origin and geographical indication. Photo:

Related tags European union

Eight new products have been given geographical indication (PGI) and protected origin (PDO) status, showing how Europe gives "high priority" to protecting its foods in international trade talks, said the agriculture commissioner last week.

The products that can now bear the labels are:

Trade talk priority

Commissioner for agriculture and rural development Phil Hogan said the eight new labels showed there was great interest in and value of the labelling system. 

“It is always encouraging to see high-quality European food getting the recognition that it deserves. It is interesting too to see the range of products being added to the registers today. GIs add to the value of high-quality products to the benefit of European farmers and food producers.

"Their importance is shown by the high priority that we attach to their protection in international trade negotiations," ​he added.

Hogan’s last comment may have raised some eyebrows as the issue of protected origin and geographical indication for food items - considered generic terms by the US - has become somewhat of a sticking point​ in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) talks.

© European Commission

Protected Designation of Origin (PDO)​: Covers agricultural products and foodstuffs which are produced, processed and prepared in a given geographical area using recognised know-how.

© European Commission

Protected Geographical Indication (PGI)​: Covers agricultural products and foodstuffs closely linked to the geographical area. At least one of the stages of production, processing or preparation takes place in the area

EU negotiators want to ensure products like Parmesan cheese, cognac, Cornish pasties or champagne only refer to locally-produced specialties, but the US uses many of these European GI-protected names generically.

Parmegiano Reggiano has had a PDO since 1996 but in 2008 the European Court of Justice ruled that Parmesan is an evocation of the Italian name and gave Parmesan origin protection as well.

This effectively cut off the EU market for many producers of the cheese not located in the actual Parma region, such as US giant Kraft Heinz. 

Around $21m-worth (€18.5m) of cheese made in the US uses names of European origin.

According to figures from the European Commission, 15% of all EU food and drinks exported to third countries in 2010 benefitted from a geographical indication.

Total sales of GI products in the same year made up €54.3bn for both food and drink, or almost 6% of the EU agri-food and drink sector.

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