Protecting the Best of British Food and Drink

New legislation is being considered by the UK Government to protect authentically British food and drink products post-Brexit. The new Geographical Indications (“GI”) rules, will guarantee the authenticity and origin of the typically British produce that we all know and love, such as Stilton cheese, Scotch whisky and Melton Mowbray pork pies.

GIs are a type of intellectual property protection to safeguard certain food, drink and agricultural products which have qualities or characteristics attributable to where they are produced and/or the methods by which they are made. As well as the above examples, this will also include English sparkling wine, Cornish Clotted Cream and Welsh Lamb.

After Brexit, the current protection of EU GI schemes will fall away for UK GIs. The Draft Agricultural Products, Food and Drink (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020, have been created to award special status to producers of traditional produce of Great Britain to ensure that when the UK leaves the EU on 1 January 2021 the intellectual property of such products is maintained and protected.

Three UK GI logos have been created (see image below). These are Protected Designations of Origin (where the entire sourcing of materials and production of a product has taken place within a defined geographical area), Protected Geographical Indications (meaning that some elements of sourcing materials or production has taken place outside the defined geographical area) and Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (showing the product has been made to a traditional recipe or method).

Registered producers of British GI products will have until 1 January 2024 to change their packaging to display the new UK GI logos. GI products of EU origin must, under existing EU regulations, continue to display the relevant EU logos.

The comprehensive schemes have been formulated in an effort to prevent others from imitating the products. GIs currently represent approximately a quarter of the total value of UK food and drink exports so protection is crucial and the hope is that producers will be able to use the new GI status to better promote their genuine British products. Of course, the GI status will also provide an assurance to consumers that the products they are buying are authentic, to enable them to buy with confidence.

The territorial extent of the new GI schemes excludes Northern Ireland, which remains under existing EU rules.

We hope that the new rules enable us to continue to celebrate and recognise the best of British.

If you would like any further advice on the new rules or you are looking to gain GI status on a certain product or manufacturing method, please get in touch with us.

Madeleine Rhodes