Trade deal restrictions an opportunity for new ideas
HEADING to the shops to grab a block of Australian feta might no longer be an option for cheese-lovers.
As part of negotiations for an ambitious and comprehensive free trade agreement between the European Union and Australia, the EU has issued a proposed list of protected terms known as 'Geographical Indications'.
This would prevent Australia producers naming products using the protected terms, even if they were produced in the same way.
Products on this list include household staples like feta, gorgonzola and parmigiano reggiano.
The list has worried many producers who are concerned how this would affect their business models.
But others are less concerned.
Emmo's Fine Foods owner Annette Emmerson said she understood the EU's push to protect the famous names.
"It does make it difficult as far as advertising purposes go if you're making that style of cheese and you can't advertise it as such,” Ms Emmerson said.
"But I try and have a different name for my cheeses. My Camembert is called Nannybert, my Haloumi is called Galoumi.”
The Thornton-based goats cheese maker explained when naming her cheeses, she used the cheese as a descriptor, rather than a name.
"While I incorporate the name, I don't actually call them a Camembert as such, I say a Camembert style of cheese,” she said.
She believed Australian producers could benefit from using more unique names in their branding, rather than relying on names tied to a geographical region.
Given the vast difference between the end product of the same style cheese produced on two different sides of the world, she said it was understandable of the EU to want to protect its produce.
"You can't make it the same as what the French do - the conditions are different, the availability of the milk, the style of the milk,” she said.
"There's a lot of different conditions that come into it and I think it's important that you localise those cheese as much as possible to make them individual.”
As part of the negotiations, the government has launched a public consultation process.
Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham said it would give industry a three-month opportunity to express their views.
"We want to hear directly from Australian farmers and businesses so that we can fully represent them in our continuing negotiations with the EU,” Mr Birmingham said.
"There are enormous opportunities for Australian farmers and businesses if we can improve their access to markets across the EU. Whilst we understand the importance the EU places on geographical indications, our priority is ensuring our farmers and businesses can get better market access and be more competitive in the EU.”
Producers can read the EU's list of proposed GIs at www.dfat.gov.au/aeufta/gis
Producers can make a submission at www.dfat.gov.au/aeufta/pop by 13 November 2019.