Creagh – Hard Brexit could see Swedish stilton and Polish pork pies undercut British producers

Dozens of iconic British food brands, from Arbroath smokies and Melton Mowbray pork pies to Cumberland sausages and Welsh laverbread, could be put at risk by a ‘no deal’ Brexit, the Open Britain campaign warns today.

If the United Kingdom leaves the EU with no deal, as the Prime Minister has said we might, there would be no agreement on mutual recognition of geographically protected foods, and British producers would lose their Protected Designation of Origin (PDO). This could lead to British producers being undercut by cheap imitations.

It comes as the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs this week formally applied for Sussex wine to be protected under EU rules, joining twelve other British foods with pending applications. 

Mary Creagh MP, a leading support of the Open Britain campaign, has written to DEFRA Secretary Michael Gove with the following questions:  

  • Do you accept that British products will no longer have their brands protected if an agreement on this is not concluded with the European Union, and that therefore a Brexit with ‘no deal’, as the Government has threatened, will leave producers threatened by imitation products? 
  • Can you guarantee that the Government will negotiate an agreement on protected food names with the European Union before Britain leaves, and that this agreement will provide the exact same levels of protection to British producers as they enjoy through our membership of the European Union?
  • Can you guarantee that this agreement, if negotiated, will not establish any new barriers to producers applying for a Protected Food Name in future?

In the letter, Mary Creagh MP, leading supporter of Open Britain, says:

“A hard and destructive Brexit poses a real threat to British farmers and small businesses, and to our precious regional food culture. 

“Leaving the European Union with no deal could see our businesses undercut, their wares replaced on supermarket shelves by imitation products. While Swedish stilton, Polish pork pies, and Belgian black pudding would come to dominate, British producers would be left behind. 

“As the Minister responsible for Britain’s food industry, it is your responsibility to ensure that producers of regional British foods will not be damaged in any way by Brexit.” 

/ends

Notes to editors:

The full letter by Mary Creagh MP to Michael Gove is below:

Dear Secretary of State.

It was reported this week that your Department is seeking Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status for Sussex wine, as part of the European Union’s Protected Food Names scheme. This scheme, promotes and protects names of quality agricultural products and foodstuffs, protecting the reputation of regional foods, promoting rural and agricultural activity, helping producers obtain a premium price for their authentic products, and eliminating the unfair competition and misleading of consumers by non-genuine products.  

As you are no doubt aware, 69 British products are currently protected in this way through EU programmes. These include Abroath smokies, Melton Mowbray pork pies and Welsh laverbread, amongst many others. A further 12 applications have been lodged. 

It is a simple fact that, if a UK-EU deal is not agreed on this issue, British producers will no longer be protected by EU PDO rules. This could open up small British producers to a nightmare of undercutting, as the market could be saturated with cheap imitations of famous British products. This would be terrible news for our world-beating food and drink industry, and for millions of consumers who value traditional regional British produce.

This is despite the fact that the Prime Minister and other Government Ministers have repeatedly stated that “no deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain”; a scenario in which there would be no deal on protected food and drink. This is not to mention the other consequences a hard Brexit would have for the industry, such as skills shortages and tariffs on exports to the European Union. 

In light of this could you please answer:

  • Do you accept that British products will no longer have their brands protected if an agreement on this is not concluded with the European Union, and that therefore a Brexit with ‘no-deal’, as the Government has threatened, will leave producers threatened by imitation products?
  • Can you guarantee that the Government will negotiate an agreement on protected food names with the European Union before Britain leaves, and that this agreement will provide the exact same levels of protection to British producers as they enjoy through our membership of the European Union?
  • Can you guarantee that this agreement, if negotiated, will not establish any new barriers to producers applying for a Protected Food Name in future? 

A hard and destructive Brexit poses a real threat to British farmers and small businesses, and to our precious regional food culture. Leaving the European Union with no deal could see our businesses undercut, their wares replaced on supermarket shelves by imitation products. While Swedish stilton, Polish pork pies, and Belgian black pudding would come to dominate, British producers would be left behind. As the Minister responsible for Britain’s food industry, it is your responsibility to ensure that producers of regional British foods will not be damaged in any way by Brexit.

I await your response to this letter with interest.

Yours sincerely, 

Mary Creagh MP 

References: 

69 British products are listed on the Database of Origin and Registration (DOOR) as being protected by the EU’s Protected Food Names scheme, including Cornish clotted cream, Stilton cheese, Melton Mowbray pork pies, Arbroath Smokies, Cumberland sausages, the Cornish Pasty, Bramley apples, Gloucestershire Old Spot pork, Jersey Royal potatoes, Stornoway black pudding, Yorkshire forced rhubarb, Welsh laverbread, and Scottish wild salmon. 

A further 12 British products are in the application stage to receive Protected Food Name status, including Welsh beef and lamb, Caerphilly cheese, and watercress. 

Source: http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/quality/door/list.html?locale=en&filter.country=GB&sort.status=asc&recordSelection=all

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs this week launched an application for Sussex wine to be given protected status: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/633559/protected-food-name-sussex-wine.pdf?utm_source=POLITICO.EU&utm_campaign=e49f486c19-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_07_31&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_10959edeb5-e49f486c19-190037621