Town & Coun­try

Country Life Every Week - - Contents - Edited by Kate Green

Pro­tect­ing our food post-brexit

WHAT could be finer than a dish of Cor­nish sar­dines, washed down with a pint of Ken­tish ale and fol­lowed by a pud­ding made from York­shire forced rhubarb? Even bet­ter, these foods, which come un­der the EU’S Pro­tected Food Name (PFN) scheme, are es­ti­mated to gen­er­ate sales of £1 bil­lion in the UK ev­ery year. Now, how­ever, pro­duc­ers are ner­vously won­der­ing whether such pro­tec­tion from imi­ta­tion will sur­vive Brexit.

The UK cur­rently has 73 PFNS un­der the scheme—in­clud­ing de­lights such as Jersey Royal pota­toes, Fal oys­ters, Cor­nish clot­ted cream, Ar­broath smok­ies, Welsh lamb and Scot­tish salmon —guar­an­tee­ing the au­then­tic­ity of re­gional and tra­di­tional foods, which may be clas­si­fied as pro­tected des­ig­na­tion of ori­gin (PDO), pro­tected ge­o­graph­i­cal in­di­ca­tion (PGI) and tra­di­tional spe­cial­ity guar­an­teed (TSG).

De­fra con­firms that it will con­tinue to process ap­pli­ca­tions for des­ig­na­tion, such as pedi­gree Welsh pork and Vale of Eve­sham as­para­gus. ‘Bri­tain is still a mem­ber of the EU and will con­tinue to en­gage with EU busi­ness as nor­mal, which means PFN sta­tus re­mains in place,’ ex­plains a spokesman. ‘These foods are ex­tremely im­por­tant to our rep­u­ta­tion as a great food na­tion and we will work to en­sure they con­tinue to ben­e­fit from pro­tec­tion.’

How­ever, Shane Hol­land, ex­ec­u­tive chair­man of Slow Food in the UK, thinks it’s ‘game over’ for PDOS await­ing pro­tected sta­tus, a process that can take up to five years: ‘We can say with con­fi­dence they’re not go­ing to re­ceive it. The Den­bigh Plum peo­ple are very up­set—they’ve been seek­ing this for years.’ Mr Hol­land can see Brexit bring­ing lim­ited pos­i­tives for PFNS. ‘All prod­ucts on the list are poten- tially at risk, even though they go beyond taste and en­joy­ment be­cause of what they bring to a com­mu­nity,’ he adds, cit­ing how the Cor­nish pasty (PGI) brought a much­needed eco­nomic boost to west Corn­wall.

‘Post-brexit, these will be eas­ier to repli­cate. Brexit also weak­ens a pro­tected prod­uct’s ex­port mar­kets and the op­por­tu­ni­ties to mar­ket them to a larger au­di­ence. A pro­ducer may only need a 5%– 10% sales down­turn to send them into bankruptcy.’

Pig farmer Ill­tud Llyr Dunsford, chair­man of Slow Food Cymru Wales, hopes that the Gov­ern­ment will main­tain a form of the PFN scheme with the Slow Food Foun­da­tion’s Ark of Taste, which has some 2,500 list­ings of small-scale, qual­ity ar­ti­san foods, com­ple­ment­ing it. He feels the lat­ter of­fers bet­ter pro­tec­tion than the EU scheme, cit­ing ex­am­ples of PFNS be­ing mis­used by third par­ties with no sanc­tions is­sued.

Dan Sal­adino of the BBC’S The Food Pro­gramme finds that most pro­duc­ers are con­fi­dent that UK PFNS will con­tinue to en­joy EU pro­tec­tion. ‘What they want is a Uk-based scheme with a re­cip­ro­cal ar­range­ment with the EU, so that pro­tected names in the UK are recog­nised in Europe and vice versa,’ he re­ports.

The Rare Breeds Sur­vival Trust, which sup­ports Glouces­ter Old Spot pigs (TSG) and Manx Loagh­tan lamb (PDO) with PFNS, is call­ing on the Gov­ern­ment to pri­ori­tise food and farm­ing. ‘With­out as­sis­tance, we could lose as many as 200 of our rare and na­tive breeds,’ com­ments chief ex­ec­u­tive Tom Bee­ston. ‘Even when it comes to food la­belling, there is lit­tle or no pro­tec­tion of breed-spe­cific prod­ucts.’

Mr Hol­land con­cludes: ‘Those in the coun­try­side los­ing a PDO as well as sub­si­dies face a dou­ble whammy.’

Last month, for­mer De­fra Sec­re­tary Liz Truss said that she would like to see a Bri­tish PFN de­vel­oped and a scheme that would grade foods like listed buildings is cur­rently be­ing dis­cussed. Julie Hard­ing

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.