Australian producers of feta cheese may very well have to rename their supply, as negotiations continue between European Union and Australian officials.
The EU is seeking to protect iconic food items, such as feta, as well as drinks known to be produced in a particular EU region. If their request is successful, producers Down Under might have to rebrand, specifying that it is ‘Australian feta’.
“We are looking at the exclusivity of the Greek cheese (feta) and we nevertheless have to take into account the Australian market and producers,” EU lead negotiator Lionel Mesnildrey said earlier this month.
Other cheeses being discussed in negotiations are Italian Gorgonzola and French Gruyere, which has its origins in Gruyere, Switzerland.
Also undecided is the stance on spirits the likes of ouzo and grappa.
In August the Australian Ministry for Trade announced a list of 408 products, including 172 foods and 236 spirits, that the EU wants to protect as Geographical Indications (GIs).
This status would mean a price premium would be added that would go directly to helping producers.
“The price premium is more than twice, so there is more income that contributes to preserving jobs in rural areas (and) attracting new generation farmers, which is an issue in the EU,” Mr Mesnildrey said.
The trade deal currently being negotiated is rather significant, given the EU is Australia’s second-largest trading partner, third-largest export destination and its second-largest services export market.
Producers have until 13 November, 2019 to make a submissions about why certain terms should be exempted from GI status.