• Protecting Your Right to Choose Your Cheese Supply Source

    By Angelique Hollister March 2, 2016

    Common-American-Cheeses.jpgCheese is increasingly familiar and popular around the world, even in cultures where consumption is non-traditional. Europe is, of course, well-known as a cheese producer and supplier but countries like Australia, New Zealand and the United States have become key suppliers as well, offering global importers and end-users alike a much broader selection to choose from for both Old World favorites such as parmesan, camembert and havarti or new creations like monterey jack.

    The European Union (EU) is, however, trying to reduce your ability to choose where to source certain varieties, essentially reducing over time your supply options which would eventually have commercial ramifications on buyers' market shares, business sales and profitability. The EU is, in fact, going beyond international standards to try to extend geographical indication (GI) protections to generic names like parmesan, feta or asiago, just to name a few. And this phenomenon is not only affecting cheese, it also poses potential risks to familiar meat products such as bologna, salami, prosciutto and many others.

    Among the cheeses at risk are very popular U.S.-made varieties. The United States has a long history of producing popular cheeses like parmesan, which has been made in the country for more than a century. U.S. companies have even won numerous international awards for their parmesans, fetas and other cheeses. If suddenly only European companies are allowed to market these popular cheeses, or other product names consumers are familiar with, the results could be devastating.

    Over-extended GI protections could:

    • Restrict supply for international cheese buyers
    • Create higher costs for buyers and consumers
    • Decrease competition in the marketplace
    • Force producers and exporters to re-label and rebrand products
    • Result in legal action for importers and re-exporters of market-leading cheeses and cheese brands for importing cheeses with names protected by the EU
    • Reduce sales and limit varieties of well-known cheeses
    • Diminish consumer brand recognition

    U.S. producers are not opposed to the concept of GIs when they actually indicate a region like “Parmigiano Reggiano” from Parma, Italy, but they won’t accept EU-driven efforts to monopolize the use of many common food terms under the guise of GIs. Many producers are joining forces to push back on the EU. They are working with international allies from approximately 12 countries to fight this threat and protect common food names.

    But this fight is also yours to support as buyers and end-users to protect your right to choose, so read more about this issue on our website and consider joining the cause led by the Consortium for Common Food Names.

    Market Insights Cheese Geographical Indications (GIs) Common Food Names Global
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