The Agriculture office says that only cheese which is produced in the Swiss Canton of Valais, may be called raclette.
Currently 12,000 tons of the cheese which is known as raclette has been produced throughout Switzerland this year, and it has been this way for decades for decades, but the Swiss Federal Office of Agriculture has decided to implement a rule that states that the cheese should not be regarded as a general Swiss product, but instead a region-based product.
The FDA has said that products should not be called raclette if they are produced outside of the specified region of Valais. However, cheese which is produced outside of Switzerland can still use the name raclette if the company that produces the cheese chooses to do so. The rule only applies to Swiss made raclette outside the Valais region, and this very fact has frustrated many within the industry, in particularly the dairy producer Emmi.
AOC (protected designation of origin) is the term that describes the protection of a product that is made in a certain area. This is designed to help continue the production of a product where the food was first produced. In this case the Valais area was the first to produce raclette cheese.
EMMI says that the decision by the Federal Office of Agriculture has in many ways jeopardised the sizable raclette cheese production facility in the rest of Switzerland. The company is fundementally concerned with the consequence such a decision will hold on its Landquart production facility.
It says that if it was aware of the uncertainties over the product name, the company would have chosen against purchasing the site and would chosen not todelved into the raclette cheese market.
Emmi claims that it produces 5,000 tons of raclette cheese annually, and it fails to understand why importers will be permitted to use the name raclette and Emmi will not. It fears that the implementation of AOC will result in imported raclette flooding the Swiss market.
Bilateral agreements between Switzerland and other countries mean that the Swiss borders will be wide open for cheese in four years time. Emmi fears that this factor could lead to the flooding of the market with imported raclette cheese.
The company is not convinced that the Valais region will be able to compete with imported cheese in the market place. Emmi is planning to take legal action against the Federal Agricultural Office's decision.