What are Geographical Indications?
A Geographical Indication (GI) identifies a product as originating in a specific region where a particular quality, reputation or other characteristic is attributable to the region. This is best illustrated with an example from the wine industry, where champagne and burgundy are both now protected GIs, and cannot be used by Australian wine producers.
Through negotiations towards an Australia-EU Free Trade Agreement, the EU is seeking to impose a trade restrictive and anti-competitive Geographical Indications (GIs) regime on Australia. This could impact Australian dairy products. If successful, the use of common food names, including names of cheeses commonly produced in Australia such as Feta and Parmesan may be restricted.
There could also be restricted use of packaging and labelling that are judged to evoke an image of a particular EU product e.g., flags, colours or images that evoke European nations.
How could this impact Australia’s dairy industry?
Australia has a proud multicultural history, including Europeans who’ve brought their skills and expertise to build successful businesses in Australia, producing award-winning cheeses. A trade restrictive GIs regime imposed on Australia could impact these rich cultural traditions. Australian cheese brands, big and small, could be affected. The industry estimates it could cost a staggering $70 million - $90 million per annum in the early years of implementation. Aussie farmers and regional communities, where a number of medium-scale cheese and yoghurt production facilities are located, could also be impacted. Estimates suggest up to 1,000 people could lose their jobs.
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Find out more
To hear more from just a few of those in the Australian dairy industry affected by the GI regime, take a look at the case studies below.
Dairy Australia, Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF), Australian Dairy Products Federation (ADPF) and state farming organisations are supporting Aussie dairy producers and continue to engage with the Australian Government and the broader dairy industry to increase awareness of the risks of an agreement on GIs. The industry seeks to ensure ongoing use of common food names that are part of the public domain, and the continued use of food names that can also legitimately be used in world markets.