Safeguarding the reputation and quality of the UK’s regional produce is a fundamental objective of the Country Land and Business Association’s Food Chain Initiative.

Of the big member states, the UK has the fewest protected products with Stilton (both white and blue) and West Country farmhouse Cheddar cheese among the better known items.

Currently, the UK has just 29 (see box) of its finest regional produce offerings protected by EU Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) or Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status compared with Italy’s 155, France’s 148 and Spain’s 97.

Charles Trotman, CLA Food Chain Initiative director, said: “We need to be smarter in protecting our regional and local products and exploit the advantages that having protected status can give to British food.”

“Under EU rules, if you have protected status you are safeguarded against competition and those who want to make a fast buck by copying something you have taken years to bring to market.

“That’s why we are working with Food from Britain, the government-sponsored agency, to help bring EU protected status to the attention of the producer and the consumer,” he added.

Increasing the range of products protected by EU law is just one aim of the initiative.

Over the course of the next 12 months the CLA, along with other parties, hopes to agree requirements for a comprehensive labelling requirement – especially for beef – and to ensure Trading Standards inspects retailers to certify the produce they sell is labelled correctly.

“We’re often reminded about the need to listen to consumers, and we are; the consumer wants to know more about where their food comes from. We believe clear country of origin labelling will allow them to make a more informed choice,” said Mr Trotman.

UK Protected Products

Cheeses
11 (compared to France’s 41)
Fruit, vegetable and cereal
1 (Jersey Royal Potato)
Fresh meat and offal
7 (Scottish beef and lamb; Orkney beef and Lamb; Shetland lamb; and Welsh beef and lamb)
Fish and other seafood
3
Beers 
3
Other animal derived products (excluding butter)
Cornish Clotted Cream
Other drinks
3 ciders