The event, organised by the UK Protected Food Name (UKPFN) Association, was an opportunity for members of the industry to meet with MPs and discuss how the PGI scheme – which safeguards £4.8bn of UK exports – could be maintained post-Brexit.
Meat Promotion Wales provided samples of PGI Welsh lamb and beef to attendees and stressed the importance of the protection scheme in providing high quality and traceability in the supply chain.
Chief executive Gwyn Howells said: “We naturally take a close interest in how these brands, currently protected under EU law, will be maintained after Brexit. As part of the UKPFN Association, we have been engaging actively with the Westminster and Welsh Governments.”
‘Part of the Brexit negotiations’
“It is possible for products outside the EU – such as Colombian Coffee – to have this designation. However the issue is part of the Brexit negotiations, and nothing is yet guaranteed.”
He called for Welsh beef and lamb to share the same PGI as iconic products such as Champagne and Parma Ham.
“Anything less than a seamless transition to an equivalent scheme which is recognised worldwide could risk the export success that Welsh red meat has enjoyed over the past decade,” he added.
Welsh Government cabinet secretary for energy planning and rural affairs Lesley Griffiths said protected food names serve as an internationally recognised badge of authenticity and originality.
‘Protected food name basket is growing’
“Our protected food name basket is growing, which gives recognition to the dedication of our producers to quality and ensures that their products are protected under EU law,” added Griffiths.
“The EU scheme has registered products from as far as China, Cambodia and Turkey, which demonstrates that when UK leaves the EU there is a strong precedent set towards negotiating our continued part in this scheme.”
Should PGI be lost, UK food producers would face potential competition from similar products from non-EU countries as well as the EU. Key UK exports, like Scotch whisky, would have to compete with imitations that shared their names.
Current EU law prevents foreign producers from using geographical food names if they have no link to the corresponding region.
In its 4 May response to the latest EFRA committee report on leaving the EU, the government affirmed its desire for products to be able to apply for GI-equivalent status under domestic law. It also stressed products with existing EU GI status would be able to hold on to this.