Farewell feta? EU wants to ban Australian producers from using common food names

According to a request from the European Union (EU), Australian manufacturers could be banned from using common food names such as “feta”, “balsamic vinegar” or “scotch”.

The union claims certain food and drink names are associated with certain European regions and should be protected as part of the proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Australia.

Tanya Barden, CEO of the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC), said local food and grocery manufacturers support free trade agreements, but not at the expense of abandoning product names that have been in use for years.

The AFGC says EU demand could cost Australia’s food industry up to $2.9 billion and affect an estimated 3,700 locally made products, including dairy, small goods, oils and confectionery.

“The federal government must ensure that the future of the Australian food industry is not paralyzed by allowing the EU to claim ownership of these widely used terms and the precedent they set for other FTA negotiations,” Barden said. “EU enforcement of Geographical Indications (GIs) would cripple many businesses as they struggle to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and put regional jobs at risk.”

GIs are names used on a product with a specific geographic origin and characteristics attributed to that specific location. EU negotiators have drawn up a list of 168 geographical indications that can only be used by European manufacturers – the focal point of the FTA negotiations.

The AFGC says there is “ambiguity” about how translations of names on the list would be interpreted. For example, the word “Parmigiano” is on the list, meaning “parmesan,” a name used as an ingredient and product by food manufacturers worldwide.

Barden added that Australian food manufacturers would not be compensated if these GIs were enforced and urged the federal government not to back down on the issue.

“Trade in Australian producers’ rights to use these everyday names would mean a free trade deal that risks hitting regional Australian communities, where 40 per cent of food producers are based, and disadvantages Australian consumers, with no discernible benefit to a vital domestic industry,” concluded Barden.

This story first appeared in our sister publication Within FMCG

https://insidesmallbusiness.com.au/latest-news/farewell-feta-eu-to-ban-aussie-producers-from-using-common-food-item-names Farewell feta? EU wants to ban Australian producers from using common food names

Adam Bradshaw

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