British farmers and food processors are failing to exploit the opportunities offered by the EU to promote and add value to their food, according to rural business leaders and MPs.

The regular allocations of European funding to promote food and produce goes largely untapped by UK farmers and processors, and British produce is some of the least well protected under EU designation of origin rules, with just 29 registered products including Cornish clotted cream and Scottish beef.

France has 140 products on the register, while Italy has 150.

The Country Land and Business Association launched a campaign to raise awareness of the benefits of EU protection status this summer, and has mustered over 100 signatures to an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons, calling on the government to promote the schemes.

Shadow agriculture minister Oliver Letwin said: “DEFRA estimates that EU protection adds 18% to the value of a food.

It helps protect famous foods, but it also encourages consumer awareness of niche artisan products.”

It does not have to be a time-consuming process to register a product, according to the CLA’s Freddie de Lisle.

“It can be very straightforward, depending on whether anyone is challenging the application.

Producers should contact their local CLA office for advice.”

But one local producer, Emily Davies, whose family makes Dorset Blue Vinney cheese on her farm near Sturminster Newton, Dorset, said the PGI badge had made no difference to the family business.

“It was a lot of hard work with all the usual paperwork and we don’t feel we’ve really got much out of it.”

sam.fortescue@rbi.co.uk