Geographically protected foods represent 'untapped potential'

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

GI's hold untapped potential for British food, claimed a new report
GI's hold untapped potential for British food, claimed a new report

Related tags: Supply chain

The UK has missed out on important opportunities because of how geographical indication policy is used, a new report called Entitled Untapped Potential: Protected Food and Drink Name Policy in the United Kingdom, produced by a group of MPs, has claimed.

Produced by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Geographically Protected Foods, the report makes clear that Geographical Indications (GI) are an excellent way to instill local pride, compete on quality both at home and abroad, and support local producers. 

However, it highlighted that many other countries use GI to put their stamp and mark of quality on their food and drink exports but highlights that the UK does not. 

UK GI policy currently covers three areas - Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) and Traditional Specialty Guaranteed (TSG). 

The report offers 38 recommendations covering how to make GIs work for producers, expand the recognition of GIs with consumers and build a stronger food brand at home and abroad. 

The underlying view of the report is that the UK has not done enough for many years to raise the profile of British food and drink, and that GIs are an "excellent way​" to celebrate the best of Great Britain’s food culture and boost Britain’s brand profile at home and abroad. 

Consumers not engaged

It also claims that producers and consumers are not currently engaged sufficiently, despite “significant and praise-worthy effort​s” taken by Government over the last two years. 

The group has called for a GI policy that is a mark of quality both in the UK and abroad, is able to command premiums across the range of price products, and a range of GI products that are exported.  

The report said: “As we recover from COVID-19 and having left the European Union, we must do more as a country to promote and cherish the very best of British food and drink and support the communities and heritage that make the United Kingdom’s food landscape so special. Not least because the importance of GIs to local economies is significant.”

The report said that there was “too much untapped potential”​ and “too many as yet hidden treasures”​ in the British food landscape, in every part of our UK to waste the opportunity to support the food and drink industries.

It has recommended that the UK should set itself a target of 200 registered GIs by 2030 and that the country should consider ways to incentivise GI production in future agricultural legislation. It also wants the UK Government to consider developing GIs as a potential activity when considering applications for rural development grants. And it also has called for a taskforce within DEFRA to actively identify and encourage GI applications. 

Voluntary body

The group has also called for a relevant a formalised, non-governmental, voluntary body for all GIs in the UK, which would assist in developing a stronger GI message both at home and abroad. 

The report also highlighted that a central problem in relation to GI policy for consumers is that the scheme is not well understood and it has recommended that the Government should invest in a widespread education, in partnership with organisations such as local authorities, retailers, and regional food organisations, to formally launch its UKGI scheme. 

On building a stronger food brand at home and abroad it added that UK Government should aim to increase the number of GIs exported abroad by 2030 and should develop a marketing strategy for the UK GI scheme abroad, including investment in stands at trade fairs. The report has also called for the Government to include in any agri-food strategy specific plans for the development and export of GI. 

Alicia Kearns MP and chair of the group writing at the beginning of the report said: Now that the United Kingdom has left the European Union, we have a once-in-a-generation chance to define our food and drink policy, to promote our local industries, support the best of our culinary heritage, and further create good paying jobs in the agriculture, food and drink manufacturing sectors.”

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