EU regulation 1151/2012 on quality schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs provides a system for the protection of products on a geographical or traditional recipe basis. This system is similar to the familiar 'appellation controlee' system used for wine.
If you are a producer of agricultural products or foodstuffs, you can apply to protect the name of your product under EU law.
This means that another producer cannot market their product using that name unless they:
- produce it in the area that has been agreed with the EU; and
- use the methods you have agreed with the EU.
Producers who are not part of the original group applying for protection, but who can show to the satisfaction of a nominated inspection body that their product conforms fully with the registered product specification, may use the registered name.
There are three protected designations that can be applied for which highlights regional and traditional products whose authenticity and origin can be guaranteed through an independent inspection system.
- Protected Geographical Indication ( PGI) - products must be produced, processed or prepared in the geographical area you want to associate with it. The product must have a reputation, characteristics or qualities that are a result of the area you want to associate with it.
- Protected Designation of Origin ( PDO) - product must be produced, processed and prepared in one area and have distinct characteristics from this area. PDO differs from PGI in that all productions stages must take place in the area you want associated with the product.
- Traditional Speciality Guaranteed ( TSG) - products must have a traditional name and characteristics that distinguish it from other similar products. These characteristics can't be due to the area the product is made in or based purely on technical advances used in production. Once protected, a TSG product can be produced in any country within the EU.
Most foods such as meat, dairy, fish products, fruits, vegetables, beer, beverages made from plant extracts, bread, pastries, cakes, biscuits, confectionery and pasta can apply for PFN status. Examples of other products which can also be registered under particular designations include:
- PGI / PDO - natural gums and resins, hay, essential oils, mustard paste, salt, cork, cochineal, flowers and ornamental plants, wool, cotton, wicker and scutched flax; and
- TSG - pre-cooked meals, prepared condiment sauces, soups and broths, ice-cream and sorbets, chocolate (and other food preparations containing cocoa).
Who can apply:
You can apply as an individual producer or you can form a group with other interested parties, e.g. someone who supplies you raw materials or sells your product.
You can include as many people as you want in your group.
As well as providing a way of helping to preserve our national and regional food heritage there are also good economic reasons to register products under the scheme, including:
- Legal protection against imitation throughout the EU;
- Increased awareness of the product both locally and throughout the EU;
- Opportunities to take advantage of consumers' increased interest in regional products by positioning the product firmly at the quality end of the market;
- The opportunity to get a premium on the product. The results of European wide research has shown that Geographical Indication ( GI) products are sold (on average) 2.23 times as high as comparable non- GI products.
- Greater potential ability, under EU state aids rules, to attract public funding for promotional initiatives and activities.