Friday, 01 July 2022 08:55

Cheese makers to lose generic naming rights

Written by  Sudesh Kissun
New Zealand cheesemakers awoke to news they could lose the rights to use key cheese names due to the free trade deal announced overnight with Europe. New Zealand cheesemakers awoke to news they could lose the rights to use key cheese names due to the free trade deal announced overnight with Europe.

New Zealand cheesemakers celebrated their annual awards last night in Hamilton but woke up this morning facing the potential loss of key cheese names.

A free trade deal announced with Europe overnight will see the loss of generic names like feta although negotiators have agreed on a nine year lead time for this change.

The FTA also allows Europe to restrict new names in the future.

New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association board member Daniel Shields says New Zealand has bowed to EU pressure and given way on key cheese names.

“It’s a mixed bag for New Zealand’s specialty cheesemakers. 

“Particularly concerning is that Europe has succeeded in including the right to restrict new names at a future date.

“This creates uncertainty and makes it hard for New Zealand operators to invest in their businesses with confidence when the threat of a loss of equity in the intellectual property of traditional cheese names looms.”

NZSCA chair Catherine McNamara saying local cheesemakers are worried about their future.

“The loss of a generic name like Feta gives us grave concerns that other generic traditional cheese names such as Havarti and Haloumi will soon be up for discussion too. 

“It creates an uncertain environment for New Zealand specialist cheesemakers.  We are now calling on the government to support industry and to work with us to create a New Zealand naming system which can be protected and invested in.”

The trophies awarded at last night’s gala awards dinner followed judging of more than 380 cheeses from across NZ at Wintec in late February. Master Judge Jason Tarrant led a panel of 36 judges to assess the cheeses. 

The four Supreme Champions are:

Open Country Dairy Ltd, Open Country Young Cheddar (Aged less than 6 months); Countdown Champion of Champion Cheese Award – Commercial.

Little River Estate, Little River Mt Richmond; New World Champion of Champion Cheese Award - Mid-sized.

Craggy Range Sheep Dairy, Maraetotara Manchego; Puhoi Valley Cheese Champion of Champions Cheese Award – Boutique.

Cathy Lang, Fonterra Co-operative Group; MilkTestNZ Champion Cheesemaker.

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