Making More From Beef: Geographical Indication

EUROPE - Farmers in the south west of England have been given an opportunity to develop rural economies through the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) scheme.
calendar icon 4 December 2013
clock icon 2 minute read

Beef and lamb born, raised and finished in Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Dorset, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire can be labelled as ‘West Country’, with implications for provenance and marketing potential.

All breeds are included, although the diet must be at least 70 per cent forage based.

The ‘mile stone’ decision came following a five month consultation process by the European Commission. Peter Baber, chairman of Meat South West (MSW), led the application.

He said the label will be introduced to the shops in January, which, as the advisory body overseeing the entire supply chain, can be monitored by MSW from farm to fork.

The act of supply chain monitoring is important in assessing the economic impact of brands, according to University of Florence research, commissioned by the Swiss government.

A Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (SFIIP) report The Effects of Protecting Geographical Indications Ways and Means of their Evaluation written back in 2011, scrutinised the value of geographical indication.

Director General of the SFIIP, Ronald Grossenbacher, stressed the inherent difficulty in gauging the value of PGIs, which have been around since 1993.

Using Jamaican rum, jerk (the traditional spices) and Blue mountain Coffee, Professors Giovanni Belletti and Andrea Marescotti set out to address 'a surprising lack of knowledge' around the effect of PGI status.

But, in the report’s conclusions it said that southern Europe, particularly parts of rural France, could hold some answers as to the impact of labelling.

The French have used signage to indicate product geography for over a century, clear proof of its cultural significance to rural Europe, the report explained.

After this week's announcement, Nick Allen, sector director for EBLEX called on the south west meat industry players to ensure that, like other parts of Europe, the marketing potential of ‘West Country’ beef and lamb is fulfilled.

Elsewhere in Britain, PGI status already governs Orkney, Welsh and Scotch beef produced to certain standards.

One example of a European beef status is the Vitellone Bianco dell’Appenino Centrale (The White Bullock of the Central Apennines).

Granted in 1998, the programme is open to three breeds – Romagnola, Chianina and Marchigiana.

Maximum age and weight limits were introduced at 21 months and 470 kilos for carcass weight.

In its first year – 2001 - the scheme slaughtered 428 cattle, rising to 2199 head by 2004.

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