High Court fillip for Melton Mowbray pork pies

The High Court has quashed an attempt to block an application to register the Melton Mowbray pork pie in Brussels as a protected geographic indication.

It is the latest twist in a the long-running spat between manufacturer Northern Foods and pie makers in and around Melton Mowbray, who want to restrict the use of the name to pies made within 24 miles of the Leicestershire town.

Northern Foods claims it has made Melton Mowbray pork pies in sites around the country, but outside the proposed zone, for over a hundred years and contests the application.

But DEFRA forwarded it to the European Commission for vetting last May even though it was the subject of a court case, and the court has upheld that decision.

Carol Williams, company secretary of Northern Foods, condemned the judgment.

“This is a case of EU rules being exploited to allow the biggest player in this market to get bigger, at the expense of the consumer.

“We think it’s anti-competitive, and it’s a sad day for common sense.”

Market leader Samworth Brothers produces Melton Mowbray pork pies in nearby Leicester, which falls just inside the protected zone.

Northern Foods is hoping to win leave for an appeal, and a spokeswoman said the company was prepared to fight the application all the way.

“It is an important principle for them, because a number of other potential products are in the pipeline for protection, such as the Leicester sausage and the Cornish pasty.”

Meanwhile, plans to protect the Newmarket sausage have folded because manufacturers could not agree on the ingredients which define it.