Concerns over EU uptake of UK protected food names as new scheme set to launch
After the end of the Brexit transition period on 1st January, the UK’s new geographical indication (GI) scheme will come into use, replacing the current EU protections, but one industry figure has expressed concern over the promotion of UK protected food names.
John Farrand, MD of the Guild of Fine Food said: “I’d like to know what the EU is doing to promote this new identity after 31st December – my feeling is not a lot.
“My main concern is whether the rest of Europe will recognise these new UK GI logos. History dictates that the Continent is slightly dismissive of our excellent food culture and we are already up against it in that respect.”
The three designations currently used on UK products under the EU scheme – Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), and Traditional Specialities Guaranteed (TSG) – will remain protected under UK law and will be accompanied with new logos to be used on qualifying products.
The UK government is seeking reciprocal recognition of these logos in new trade agreements and has made arrangements with Switzerland and South Korea, with talks ongoing with Japan and the EU.
But it remains to be seen if the logos will be promoted or carry weight on the Continent. “The UK has fallen behind its European friends in protecting food and drink for decades,” said Farrand.
“The impending exit from the EU could go one of two ways. Will UK makers find a sense of place and feel an increased need to use this mechanism to protect and promote their products? I hope so, but it could feel more remote and just seen as something the French, Spanish and Italians do.”
A spokesperson for Defra, the government department responsible for overseeing the scheme, said: “GI schemes are the bedrock of the UK’s overarching strategy to protect our traditional, local foods.”
All UK GIs registered in EU schemes by the end of the transition period will continue to be protected in the UK and the EU in the New Year, at which point new applications to the UK scheme will open.
Before using one of the new logos, producers must ensure that products conform with the relevant specification and have up-to-date verification that has been carried out by an approved control body and must be reverified every three years.
“Everyone must make sure that they are using the GI name and logo correctly,” said the Defra spokesperson.
Logo use is required on protected foods, beers, ciders and any other agricultural products – excluding wines and spirits – which are produced and on sale in Great Britain.
To allow for a period of adjustment, logo use will be mandatory from 1st January 2024 for those products registered before the end of the transition period – but products still need to be verified if using a protected name before this point. Retailers will be responsible for adding the logos to any products without them in three years’ time.
Any new products registered after the Brexit transition period is over must start using the new graphics immediately.
The spokesperson said: “Different rules apply for products made in Northern Ireland (NI). For the duration of the Northern Ireland protocol the EU schemes will be the framework for protection.”
This means that a protected product to be sold in NI must carry the EU logos, regardless of origin, but may also carry the GB logo if it is on sale in both mainland Britain and NI.
For more information and to download the new logos visit gov.uk
Read the latest edition of Fine Food Digest here.