Northern Foods faces another battle front in pie market

By Ahmed ElAmin

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Pasty

Faced with the prospect of losing its lucrative market for Melton
Mowbray pies, Northern Foods might get hit again as Cornish pasties
attempt to get the same protection under the EU's geographical
indications system.

The Cornish Pasty Association has applied to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to get their pie included under the EU's protected geographical indication (PGI) system. Defra, which has a policy of promoting traditional foods, has to approve the application before it is sent on to the European Commision for consideration.

The EU's geographical indication system protects the names of such foods from being used by manufacturers who produce similar products outside of a designated area.

Northern Foods was in an unsuccessful court battle last against a PGI application by local makers of Melton Mowbray pies. The court battle evolved as a ground breaking case over the EU's geographical indications (GI) system and the problems it can pose for manufacturers.

Since losing the case last year Northern Foods has appealed the decision.

If granted, the Melton Mowbray would be the first recipe-based product to receive such status in the UK. Northern Foods would then have to either stop calling its pies that name or switch production to the designated area and keep the recipe to the standared.

The Cornish Pasty Association is a group of about 40 of the county's pasty manufacturers and bakers who are applying for European protected status for the Cornish pasty.

If the application for PGI status is successful it will mean that only pasties manufactured in Cornwall can legally be called Cornish pasties. Cornish pasties would also be able to carry the PGI symbol.

ACNielsen values the UK's retail savoury pastries market at around £307m and growing by six per cent year-on-year.

To date, 36 UK products have been registered with the EU including Stilton Cheese, Cornish Clotted Cream and West Country Farmhouse Cheddar. A further 18 applications are being considered.

The EU wants international recognition for the GI system and has applied to World Trade Organisation to get it ratified. That application is being contested by the US, which claims the system is nothing but another form of trade protection.

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