By Laurie Fischer, CEO, American Dairy Coalition
8/21/2019: A crucial agreement has been reached that provides support for protection for the Mozzarella di Bufala Campana Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) in the United States and around the world, while explicitly establishing the free use of the generic term “mozzarella” to indicate a type of cheese. The agreement, between the Consorzio Tutela Mozzarella di Bufala Campana, the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and the Consortium for Common Food Names (CCFN) is of critical importance as it secures the use of common terms on U.S. cheese products, while recognizing the territory of production.
A previous effort by the European Union to take sole ownership of common terms used by consumers (such as Parmesan, Feta, Asiago, and many other cheeses) through the priority of geographical indications (GI’s), would force U.S. farmers to utilize unfamiliar names on their cheese products. GI’s, intended to protect distinctive products, would in turn impede the competition of U.S. dairy products in global markets and give European food producers a substantial commercial advantage. The negative ripple effect on U.S. economies would be substantial, as consumers would face confusion over unfamiliar terms, and ultimately higher prices and fewer choices.
Effective GI policy has a benefit to consumers and producers throughout North America, including commitments to transparency, which government leaders have long promoted. This agreement proves especially significant as the United States is the largest non-EU export market for Mozzarella di Bufala Campana, making this a noteworthy step towards recognizing both the validity of GI’s and the usage of common food names.
The American Dairy Coalition is encouraged by the positive direction this increased dialogue has towards increasing fairness in utilizing common terms, while maintaining the integrity and transparency of dairy products and justly leveling the playing field in global markets.
“It is vital that consumers have transparency and awareness of the quality dairy products available to them,” says Laurie Fischer, American Dairy Coalition CEO. “Further, it is of equal importance that U.S. dairy farmers are provided fair access to language to have the opportunity to be competitive in global markets. This agreement is an important step in providing much-needed clarity and definition and sets the precedence for classification of further cheeses. We are eager to see how the conversation evolves and the impact it will make on markets in the U.S. and globally.”
In addition, a joint letter was sent to the European Commission and to the U.S. and Italian governments requesting that they uphold the agreement and support efforts to guard both the name Mozzarella di Bufala Campana and the free use of the term mozzarella in markets across the globe.