1st April 2016
West Country farmed cheddar could be granted special status in the United States after it was announced it is to be included in ongoing trade negotiations.
Following pressure from the South West MEP and European Conservative Leader, Ashley Fox, the European Commission has agreed to seek protection for the world-famous cheddar in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) talks.
If successful, the move would restrict region-specific branding to goods produced in the country or area named.
The current US system, and the way it is enforced, means products may be sold in the US using a region's name even if they are not actually produced there. Consequently, European producers lose out.
Mr Fox said if the cheddar was included in the TTIP deal, it would be a significant economic boost to UK producers and good news for US consumers.
"I am delighted that the Commission has listened to our representations," said Mr Fox.
"The United States is a significant market for our food exports but at the moment it is difficult for producers to protect their brands. Even if they can afford to register under the US trademark system it provides much less protection than GI status confers in Europe.
"Securing official recognition within TTIP would provide a wonderful opportunity for our producers to increase sales. It also enables US consumers looking for world class quality to buy our products safe in the knowledge they are getting the genuine article."
Conservative MEPs will shortly be launching a campaign to persuade more UK food producers to apply for GI status and for protected foods to be included in future EU trade deals.
Other products included in the initiative are Scotch beef, Scottish farmed salmon, Welsh beef, Welsh lamb and White and Blue Stilton cheeses.