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EU’s GI Policies Would Lead To Big US Cheese Consumption Decline

Immediate Impacts Of GI Restrictions In US Would Be Consumption Cut Of 578 Million Pounds

The immediate impacts of enforcing the European Union’s (EU) geographical indication (GI) restrictions in the US would be to reduce consumption of US-produced cheeses by 578 million pounds, which equates to 5 percent of total US cheese consumption in 2015, according to an analysis released Tuesday by Informa Economics IEG.

The analysis was commissioned by the Consortium for Common Food Names (CCFN), and unveiled jointly by CCFN and three US dairy trade associations: the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and US Dairy Export Council (USDEC).

The EU is “aggressively pursuing” GI status for common cheese and other agricultural products within its borders and abroad, the analysis explained.
The study’s objective is to quantify the likely effects of granting GI status to European cheese makers for cheese varieties that are produced in the US, which is currently negotiating the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the EU.

“Cheeses currently holding GI protections in Europe have a long history of production in the United States but continued production could be jeopardized by allowing EU efforts to restrict common names to continue to expand,” the study said. Such US products are already facing export constraints in a variety of markets.

In 1992, the EU (then known as the European Economic Community) first adopted a system of protection for geographical names involving two categories: Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) and Protected Geographic Indication (PGI). The two GIs indicate different levels of connection with a geographic area.

All agricultural products are covered under the PDO/PGI regulation, including foodstuffs such as cheese. In countries where the PDO/PGI regulations are enforced, only products that meet the various geographical and quality standards may use the GIs. Outside the EU, trade agreements are used to help establish recognition of products with EU PDO/PGI status, the study noted.

As of the end of August 2016, 250 cheeses have been granted GI status in the EU or are in the process of acquiring it, the study said.

The study noted that, over the last 20-plus years, among other GI developments in the EU, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that “parmesan” is the translation of “Parmigiano” and therefore Italy is entitled to prohibit the production of “parmesan” cheese that does not follow PDO specifications; and the ECJ has also upheld that “feta” is a PDO of Greece (Germany and Denmark had brought a suit attempting to establish “feta” as a generic name).

Informa’s analysis indicated that Germany lost over $259.6 million as a result of PDO implementation; most of these export declines were

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