If the EU's proposal is to go ahead, it will mean that the use of the name Parmesan will be reserved strictly for producers in the Parma region of Italy where the specialty cheese originates. And this move would mean that produces across the globe that make and market the cheese will have to employ a different name for their cheese or simply stop producing the brand.
In the past the EU has used the initiative to secure regional rights for products such as champagne and raclette cheese. But when the EU makes such a proposal, although the original producers and the home nations mostly back the issue, the EU's proposal is almost always met wit stiff opposition.
The Italians would argue that reservation of the Parmesan name would protect the quality of the product globally as well as strengthen sales in the area where the product was first produced. But non-Italian producers say the move will damage world-wide sales of the cheese.
"Since there is no way that Parma, Italy can supply the huge global demand for Parmesan, the losers in this attempted EU claw-back would be consumers accustomed to buying an affordable, locally or regionally produced Parmesan. Such a move restricts consumer choice", said Earl Rattray, chairman of the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand.
At a meeting held earlier in the week, New Zealand, Australian and Mexican producers all criticised the EU's proposal. The New Zealand association said that it is willing to take the dispute through the European courts. It is likely that such a move could damage the dairy idustries in certain southern Hemisphere countries in particlarly.New Zealand and Australia dairy production is responsible for 50 per cent of dairy products consumed world wide.