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Wool you support us?

Published: 9 Feb 2016 11:00

Orkney producers to launch Protected Geographical Indicator application.

Applications to grant European Protected Geographical Indicator (PGI) status to North Ronaldsay Wool and North Ronaldsay Mutton were launched today (Tuesday) in Kirkwall.

If successful, the wool and mutton, which are native to the island of North Ronaldsay, will join a growing list of popular iconic Scottish products with European protected status, including Orkney Island Cheddar, Scotch Beef, Arbroath Smokies, and Traditional Ayrshire Dunlop Cheddar.

Scotland's Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and the Environment Richard Lochhead welcomed the applications from A Yarn From North Ronaldsay and the North Ronaldsay Sheep Court, commenting:

"Scotland is world-famous for our wonderful produce, and people want to know they are buying the real deal. Achieving PGI status for both North Ronaldsay Wool and Mutton will ensure that consumers at home and abroad have a one hundred per cent guarantee of the product's authenticity.

"We have a growing number of Scottish products which are protected under EU Legislation and free from imitation. It's very encouraging to see that more producers – and not just food producers – are now taking the initiative to apply for this status. It guarantees the product's provenance and supports local producers. This scheme benefits brands synonymous with Scotland and I would urge others to look at taking this forward."

Native North Ronaldsay wool and mutton must come from pure bred North Ronaldsay native breed sheep, reared on the island. The sheep live on the foreshore of the island, and are clipped between June and August which is done by hand clipping, rooing or mechanical shearing.

North Ronaldsay mutton is held in the same regard as Italian prosciutto ham, truffles and caviar, thanks to its lean meat and unique gamey flavour.

Jane Donnelly, owner of A Yarn From North Ronaldsay, said:

"Gaining PGI status would help justify the effort of a single remote community over hundreds, if not thousands, of years in maintaining this breed against all odds to the present day. The characteristics of the wool in both quality and natural colours are rapidly becoming renowned due to a keen network of fibre enthusiasts throughout the world. The PGI application will help to highlight this unique breed of sheep and so ensure for generations to come their continued survival."

Dr Kevin Woodbridge, Clerk to the North Ronaldsay Sheep Court, said: "It is the unique foreshore environment and the husbandry of the flock by North Ronaldsay islanders over generations that has created this breed. This cannot be replicated elsewhere and it is essential for the producers and consumers alike that the genuine product is guaranteed by the Protected Food Name status."

Notes to editors

More on the PGI scheme:

In 1993 EU legislation came into force which provides for a system for the protection of food names on a geographical or traditional recipe basis.

The EU Protected Food Name scheme highlights regional and traditional foods whose authenticity and origin can be guaranteed. The product is awarded one of three marks: Protected Designation of Origin (PDO); Protected Geographical Indication (PGI); and Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG). Under this system a named food or drink registered at a European level will be given legal protection against imitation throughout the EU.

Producers who register their products for protection benefit from having a raised awareness of their product throughout Europe. This may in turn help them take advantage of consumers' increasing awareness of the importance of regional and speciality foods.

Think Local is a three-year, Scottish Government funded project, which will help to develop a commercial and sustainable local food & drink sector in Scotland, on a regional basis.

Think Local is being delivered by SRUC, Scotland's Rural College, the Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society and Scottish Food Quality Certification, and includes collaboration with Scotland Food and Drink, the Scottish Association of Farmers Markets, and the National Farmers' Retail & Markets Association.

The Think Local remit includes developing new local food networks, expanding Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight, creating signature food events for Homecoming Scotland, and providing new support for farmer's markets. Funding for the operations of Think Local is supported by the Scottish Government. @ThinkLocalScot