Australian cheese and yogurt makers could be banned from using Italian and French flags on their products if EU bureaucrats in Brussels get their way.
A clause in a proposed European Union free trade deal with Australia seeks to prohibit any form of food packaging that is an ‘imitation or evocation’ of something European.
Dairy producers could be stopped from putting Italian flags on Parmesan cheese, which would affect New Zealand company Fonterra’s Perfect Italiano range.
Ice cream, custard and yogurt maker Pauls could forced to ditch its logo imitating the French tricolour.
Australian cheesemakers could be banned from using Italian and French flags on their products if EU bureaucrats in Brussels get their way. This would affect New Zealand company Fonterra’s Perfect Italiano range
It also faces being forced to renamed its ‘Athentikos’ yogurt for evoking the capital of Greece, as Farmers Union is instructed to stop marketing its culture as ‘Greek Style.’
Australian Dairy Farmers chief executive David Inall said the proposed EU rule would ban not just flags but also any colours or images that evoked European places or things.
‘We are deeply concerned by the EU’s interests in evocation,’ he told Daily Mail Australia on Wednesday.
‘The production of many cheeses in Australia is a reflection of Australia’s rich migration history.
‘Many Australian cheese manufacturers brought their skills from Europe, and the thought that the EU could seek to stop them from celebrating their heritage by banning the use of flags, images or even colours that evoke Europe on their products is very distressing.’
Negotiations with the EU on a free trade deal began in June last year.
Ice cream, custard and yogurt maker Pauls could forced to ditch its logo imitating the French tricolour. It also faces being forced to renamed its ‘Athentikos’ yogurt for evoking the Greek capital, as Farmers Union is instructed to stop marketing its culture as ‘Greek Style
Food and drink names that could be changed
Feta: This goat’s milk cheese has been produced since ancient times. The EU wants the term ‘feta’, with one ‘t’, to be banned entirely, and is less compromising with this particular diary product. It is already widely marketed as ‘fetta’ in Australia
Mozzarella: ‘Mozzarella’ would be allowed on its own but the marketing term ‘Mozzarella di Bufala Campana’ unless in came from specific Italian regions, including Naples and Salerno among others
Camembert: This creamy variety of cheese could be marketed with a small ‘c’ but ‘Camembert de Normandie’ would be banned unless it came from the Normandy region of northern France
Edam and Gouda: The terms ‘Edam’ and ‘Gouda’ would be allowed on their own but not with the name ‘Holland’ in a bid to safeguard Dutch dairy interests
Prosciutto: This cured ham term would be allowed on its own but would be banned from being paired with the terms ‘di Parma’, ‘di San Daniele’ and ‘Toscano’ unless these were Italian imports
Scotch: The term would be banned entirely from being paired with either beef or lamb while the term ‘Scotch whisky’ would be prohibited altogether unless these products were made in Scotland
Source: European Union list of Geographical Indications as presented to the Australian government
The trading bloc wants Australia to stop food producers from imitating or evoking the ‘style’ and ‘flavour’ of a European product and even the production methods.
The European Union has also released a list of 172 food and 236 beverages that breach its copyright and wants this fixed as part of a free trade deal.
This could see Australian dairy producers potentially banned from using the term feta, with one ‘t’, to describe white, salty cheese because it originated in ancient Greece.
Gruyere would also be prohibited unless the product was imported from France.
Mozzarella could also be banned from featuring on packaging, in a certain way, unless it was imported from Italy while Camembert may be declared an illegal name if it convinced consumers it was a creamy, French dairy product.
Edam and Gouda labels face being prohibited if accompanied by the phrase Holland because that is a Dutch cheese variety.
Dairy products wouldn’t be the only foods affected with the term prosciutto regulated as a marketing term for a cured ham for having Italian origins.
The term Scotch would be banned entirely from being used to market beef and lamb cuts along with whisky unless they were the product of Scotland, which ironically is leaving the EU when Brexit comes into force in late October.
Farmers and food producers are being asked for feedback on the EU’s geographical indications policy, with a three-month public consultation period beginning on Tuesday.
National Farmers’ Federation chief executive Tony Mahar said the EU proposals would force cheese makers into using mundane terms to sell their products.
EU bureaucrats in Brussels have ordered Australia to change the names of hundreds of products so they don’t have a European geographical connotation. This could see Australian dairy producers banned from using the term fetta to describe white, salty cheese because it originated in ancient Greece
‘Changes to require manufacturers and farmers to call it something like crumbly cheese in brine just would be devastating,’ he told Australian Associated Press on Wednesday.
‘That would be such a change to the dynamics of the marketplace. We think that’s unfair.’
University of New South Wales economics lecturer Tim Harcourt said the EU policies were unnecessary.
‘I don’t know what they’re worried about,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
‘You can just let consumers make up their own mind.’
Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said the EU, with its 500million consumers, was Australia’s third largest export market, adding Australia could reach a compromise with the European Union.
Mozzarella, a cheese used to make pizza, could be banned from featuring on packaging unless it is imported from Italy
‘There are enormous opportunities for Australian farmers and businesses if we can improve their access to markets across the EU,’ he said in a statement on Tuesday.
‘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.’
Australia already has an agreement with the EU banning the use of European wine regions on its labels, which a decade ago prohibited the use of the terms champagne, port and sherry.
As a bloc, the EU is Australia’s second largest trading partner after China and the third biggest export market.
In 2018, Australia’s two-way trade relationship with the EU was worth $109billion.
Edam and Gouda labels face being prohibited because that is a Dutch cheese variety
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has released the full EU geographical indications list, explaining Australia’s major trading partner had sought to ban terms like ‘Camembert de Normandie’ if it misled consumers into thinking the product came from the French Normandy region.
The term ‘camembert’, with a small-c, would still be allowed to be used on its own.
A similar rule would apply to other cheeses, provided consumers weren’t misled into believing they had been imported from Europe.
In June last year, the Australian government embarked on negotiations for a free trade agreement with the EU, in a bid to boost unfettered export opportunities.
The EU has identified geographical indications as part of these trade negotiations.
Australia already has 11 existing free trade agreements, allowing goods and services to be imported and exported without tariffs.
It has arrangements with China, the United States, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Thailand, Chile, Canada, Malaysia, Singapore and the Association of South East Asian Nations.
Dairy products wouldn’t be the only foods affected with the term prosciutto banned as a marketing term for a cured ham for having Italian origins