The Irish government has begun the formal process to seek EU recognition of the unique characteristics of the Waterford ‘Blaa’ – the simple, but special, bread roll/bap that is associated with Waterford City.
|The Waterford Blaa
Minister Simon Coveney launched a national consultation process on the application of the “Waterford Blaa” for registration as a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI). On completion of the national consultation the application will be forwarded to the European Commission for review. Granting of this intellectual property protection to “Waterford Blaa” would mean that producers of the product within the specified region only could use this name.
|Bakers from the Waterford Blaa Bakers Association
Minister Coveney said “The publishing of the specification document follows a period of engagement between the producer group in Waterford (Waterford Blaa Bakers Association) and my Department.”
He went on to say “It is important that we take advantage of the EU Quality Products Scheme; to date Ireland has not sufficiently exploited this opportunity, this is a positive step forward, I would encourage producers of regional products to discuss possible applications with my Department”.
The PGI scheme protects particular product names that are linked to a particular territory or to a production method. The products themselves do not have to be unique, yet the applications must show how the characteristics of the region – topographic, reputation, natural resources – have an impact on the characteristics of the product.
|A Lamb burger on Waterford blaa topped with sweet cherry toms & dressing fromEden Restaurant, Dublin, who get their Blaas delivered from Waterford every day! pic via @MarkMatanes
The requirements for Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) are:
- The product/foodstuff originates from the defined geographical area
- Possess a specific quality, reputation or other characteristics attributable to the defined geographic area
- At least one stage of production, processing and preparation of the agricultural product or foodstuff takes place within the defined geographical area.
It is a stringent process and can take several years to complete from the time a decision to apply for the registration of a product is made. After analysis by national authorities it goes to Europe for consideration. Once it gets to European level the Blaa will undergo examination by the Commission services & publication with a 6-month opposition period before registration may be granted.
Four Irish products already have an EU Quality label:
Clare Island Salmon, Connemara Hill Lamb, Imokilly Regato, and Timoleague Brown Pudding. These products were worth €35 million to the Irish economy in 2010 and have a strong track record in the export market.
12% of Irish products bearing EU quality labels are sold within the Irish market, 82% are sold to other EU countries, and 6% are sold outside of the EU. In the EU as a whole the opposite is the case, as the vast majority of quality label products are sold within their country of production. This difference reflects the strong export-oriented nature of Ireland’s food production industry.
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