The EU Protected Food Name (PFN) Scheme provides a system for the protection of food names on a geographical or traditional recipe basis, throughout the EU. It recognises regional and traditional foods whose authenticity and origin can be guaranteed. Products are awarded one of three marks: Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) and Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG). Registered products include the Cornish pasty, Stilton Blue Cheese and Jersey Royal Potatoes.
On 15 January 2014, West Country beef and lamb was granted coveted PGI protection under the EU PFN Scheme. This success comes after a sustained campaign from West Country farmers. Animals born, reared and finished in the six counties of South-West England (Devon, Cornwall, Wiltshire, Somerset, Dorset or Gloucestershire) will now qualify for protected status, providing they have been fed a 70% grass and forage-based diet. Producers will be entitled to proudly brand their meat as ‘West Country’ and use the PFN Scheme logo. New labels are currently being designed, although it will take some time before customers see these on the shelves.
Defra is working with food and drink producers to secure PFN status for many well-known UK products. Farm minister George Eustice has expressed the importance of helping more UK food producers to make an application for PFN status and ensure their quality produce is recognised at an EU level.
For producers, the PGI accreditation is a powerful and highly sought-after branding tool for unique products. Farmers of West Country beef and lamb will now benefit from increased product awareness and EU recognition of quality when exporting their products. The PFN Scheme also offers legal protection from imitation across the EU, which provides reassurance to customers they are buying the ‘genuine’ product.
Effective brand protection (through the PFN Scheme or otherwise) is an important consideration for all businesses operating within the food and drink industry. Businesses large and small should regularly review their brand protection arrangements, with a view to building a strong (and valuable) portfolio of rights.
For more information, please contact David Thompson, Head of Food and Drink, Michelmores LLP on 01392 687656 or at email@example.com