Jess Benneworth, 24, tucks into a cheese platter in Noosaville.
Jess Benneworth, 24, tucks into a cheese platter in Noosaville.

Aussie producers who flog EU food names on notice

SOME European countries want to stop Australian producers and exporters calling their cheese feta and parmesan, and are demanding winemakers rename prosecco.

The claims, which also include banning the colours red, white and green from packaging, are being levelled by some countries ahead of European Union free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations with Australia.

Italian Parmigiano Reggiano may need a new Australian name.
Italian Parmigiano Reggiano may need a new Australian name.

It is understood Italy is the most aggressive when it comes to geographical indicators and it also wants to stop Australian producers from using the colours of the Italian flag on packaging.

It argues a product's name is not generic but has certain qualities because of its home region.

It is believed France is more stubborn about market access.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is to meet European Commission President Jean-Claude Junker, French Prime Minister Edouard Phillippe and German Chancellor Angela Merkel during his time in the northern hemisphere.


Kenilworth Dairies has invested in its brand of feta.
Kenilworth Dairies has invested in its brand of feta.


Negotiations over the highly-sought after FTA are yet to start, but early ambit claims are being made.

It is not a certainty the European countries will bring their demands to official negotiations, but Australia is prepared for such a move.

Trade Minister Steve Ciobo said he would not take a backward step for Australian farmers and producers.

"Australia expects the EU will ask for the protection of specific lists of geographical indicators protected in the EU, consistent with what they have done in previous free trade agreements but we maintain our position to seek favourable outcomes for Aussie exporters,'' he said.

Should Australia have to rename foods to make Europe happy?

This poll ended on 20 May 2018.

Current Results

Yes, we should respect their unique foodie offerings.


No, they are too precious about their branding.


Who cares.


Yes but we should trademark our own food offerings too.


This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.


"Australia has great products like cheese. We currently export worldwide and our industry is renowned for its quality. Australia will continue to work closely with industry and stakeholders on this issue throughout negotiations."

Mr Ciobo said Australia had a strong interest in ensuring common names and prior trademark rights continued to be used by Australian businesses, promoting openness in world trade and encouraging growth in trading relationships.

An Agriculture Department spokesman said the Winemakers Federation of Australia objected to the European Union's attempts to restrict product names.

"The EU is seeking to have prosecco protected in a number of third country markets through free trade agreements and have been successful in Vietnam and India," he said. "The EU is continuing to pursue its geographical indications around the world, including seeking protection of prosecco as a geographic indication."

Queensland's dairy-farm-to-plate business Kenilworth Dairies has been associated with cheesemaking for more than 60 years.

Prosecco by any name.
Prosecco by any name.

Owner John Cochrane said changing the name of products such as feta would cause a headache for Australian cheese producers.

"We've invested a lot into our brand so we're not very keen to support any name change," he said.

Olympus Cheese owner Michael Gavriel said he understood the negotiations would only affect Australian cheese producers selling to the European market.

"I don't know how it will pertain to us in Australia," he said. "I know the DIAA (Dairy Industry Association of Australia) has made submissions on behalf of the Australian industry about this issue."

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