Deal needed to protect Scots food labels after Brexit

Scotch Beef, Scotch Lamb, Orkney Scottish Island Cheddar and Scottish Wild Salmon could still enjoy European Union protection from imitations '“ provided the UK government reciprocates with a similar recognition of European products.
Many Scottish foods have PGI or similar protections. Picture: ContributedMany Scottish foods have PGI or similar protections. Picture: Contributed
Many Scottish foods have PGI or similar protections. Picture: Contributed

The PGI (Protected Geographical Indicator) and similar schemes are widely used to protect the producers of specialist, high-quality foods which are recognised around the world from those wishing to fraudulently cash in on their good name.

Two of the country’s biggest food “brands”, Scotch Beef and Scotch Lamb, have enjoyed this status since 1996 and the PGI status has been used as a significant marketing tool for both sectors.

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Yesterday, Laurent Vernet, head of marketing with Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) said it was vital for UK legislation to give protection to PGI foods in this country as the new political landscape unfolded. He pointed out there were numerous examples of non-EU member countries with products which benefited from this status.

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He said: “We see no reason why Scotch Beef PGI and Scotch Lamb PGI, which were among the first meats in Europe to be awarded PGI status, should not continue to benefit from PGI status as long as the necessary production criteria are in place.

“As an industry in Scotland we have worked hard to build strong brands underpinned by world-leading quality assurance. QMS is committed to ensuring our industry’s top quality brands, with their iconic reputation, continue to thrive on the global marketplace.”

Vernet added that QMS was also keen for clarity on the position of third country arrangements – products with PGI status are currently protected as part of bilateral agreements between the EU and third countries.

A report published yesterday by the Agricultural & Horticultural Development Board showed that, at present, the UK has 61 registered Geographical Indication products and 17 applications in the pipeline, with the majority relating to the meat and cheese sectors.

Kathy Roussel, head of the organisation’s Brussels office, said that government bodies recognised the benefits of protecting traditional and geographical food products.

She said a team was looking at how best to protect these products post-Brexit, adding: “When the UK leaves the EU, registered protected food names should be able to benefit from EU protection against imitation, provided there is a reciprocal agreement between the UK and the EU.”

However, Roussel said the funding provided by the EU to promote these brands would dry up post-Brexit – a source which had put £5 million into promoting Scotch Beef and Lamb over the past ten years.

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But she conceded that producers might still see mileage in using EU protected food names as a ­valuable marketing tool to differentiate their products on EU and international markets.