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The UK Government has announced that as of 1st January 2021 all products with existing EU designated Protected Food Names will automatically receive a new British accreditation.
According to Defra, the UK’s 86 food and drink products with geographical indication (GI) status account for 25% of all of Britain’s food and drink exports by value, generating over £5 billion. However, research by the Enterprise Research Centre found that benefits to producers went beyond financial; holding GI status led to increased heritage food tourism, safeguarding local employment and protection from imitation. Consumer education is paramount in order to maintain the value of these products, the research found, as is minimising the burden of red tape.
Professor Stephen Roper, director of the Enterprise Research Centre, said: “Current research suggests around one in six consumers recognise the European GI labels and only around one in 10 take them into account in their shopping choices. That’s after them being in place for a generation. The UK is starting from scratch with this new Protected Food Names (PFN) system and so one of the key challenges for the government is going to be building awareness among consumers of this new system.
“Developing the new system presents two opportunities. One is for the UK to develop a system of PFNs that is more agile and accessible to specialist producers than the EU system of geographical indications. The other one is to extend the current range of products which are protected. What we know from our research is there may be 12 to 15 additional heritage cheeses which might be in position to have a PFN and those numbers are replicated across meat products, confectionery and bakery products as well. It’s clear that could bring potential advantages for producers and local food tourism in different parts of the country.
“One of the main challenges for smaller producers at the moment is around the costs of inspection relative to the benefits of the GIs. There is a possibility that if the UK Government wanted to support this very actively, they could subsidise the costs of inspection for smaller producers as part of initiatives to support local food tourism and economic development in more rural areas.
“A good point of comparison would be the Red Tractor farm assurance label. About 70% of the adult population in the UK say they recognise it, but it’s been around a long time and has been heavily promoted. To achieve something similar with the new PFN labels, the government is probably going to have to think about a sustained advertising and marketing campaign that could take in on-the-ground promotion in schools, supermarkets and on social media.”
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