Prosecco, feta and extra: EU naming tiff may spark a ‘horrible precedent’

Tensions are operating excessive amongst Australian foods and drinks producers as Commerce Minister Don Farrell makes an attempt to wrap up 5 years of commerce talks with the European Union.

Senator Farrell travelled to Brussels on Monday for talks with EU commissioners in an try to settle a long-running stalemate on Australia establishing a free commerce settlement (FTA) with the EU.

Australia stands to achieve a spread of advantages from an FTA with the EU, together with better commerce entry for agricultural and industrial exports.

However talks have repeatedly damaged down through the years, with one of many main sticking factors being the EU’s stipulation that Australian producers cease utilizing ‘geographical indicators’ for Australian-made merchandise with European origins.

If the EU will get it method, Australians may see locally-made merchandise comparable to prosecco and feta renamed, a transfer that native producers say would value them tens of millions of {dollars} and confuse customers.

This transfer wouldn’t be unprecedented.

A earlier cope with the EU noticed native wine producers lose the precise to the identify champagne in 2010. Their Australian-made merchandise at the moment are known as glowing wine.

Issues of precedent set by wine identify

Prosecco is massive enterprise in Australia.

The overall worth of Australian prosecco manufacturing quickly grew from simply  over $60 million in 2017 to an estimated $205 million in 2021, in keeping with Australian Grape & Wine.

“Our place is certainly that we must always be capable of proceed with the present preparations – utilizing the identify prosecco – as it’s positively a grape selection,” Lisa Scott, Australian Grape & Wine director of presidency relations, mentioned.

“The aim of free commerce agreements is to enhance entry and scale back limitations to commerce, to not impose limitations to commerce.”

However the identify of the grape varietal is disputed, because of Italy’s push for unique rights to the identify prosecco.

In 2009, Italy switched the identify of the grapes that produce the wine from prosecco to glera on the official grape register, then declared a geographic Prosecco area within the Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia areas in northwestern Italy.

This enabled prosecco to be included within the EU’s geographical indications (GI) register, which means areas all through the EU are prevented from utilizing and registering the identify prosecco on their merchandise.

However many worldwide producers have rejected the change, and nonetheless confer with the wine’s grapes as prosecco.

Natalie Pizzini, who works with Pizzini Wines, mentioned prosecco accounts for about 25 per cent of the King Valley vineyard’s gross sales.

She mentioned if the rights to the prosecco are taken away, it might set a “horrible precedent” going ahead.

Natalie Pizzini pours prosecco at her household vineyard. Photograph: Pizzini Wines

“[If the results of the FTA negotiations are] that we’re not allowed to make use of the identify prosecco, which is the identify of the grape selection, then what grape selection is subsequent?” she mentioned.

“Might it’s pinot grigio? Might it’s sangiovese? Might it’s chardonnay? Or may it’s a Spanish selection?

“That’s regarding … for all grape producers in Australia.”

Ms Pizzini mentioned if producers have been compelled to go away the identify prosecco behind, the rebrand wanted would value tens of millions of {dollars}, and the trade would wish money injections from state and federal governments to assist them.

“If we’re unable to name it prosecco in Australia, what are we going to name it? How are the customers going to search out it? And the way a lot cash is it going to value to inform the customers the brand new story?”

Authorities to face agency on difficulty

Senator Farrell has a tricky street forward of him, as he makes an attempt to steadiness requires Australian producers to retain naming rights whereas pursuing a commerce cope with the EU that may give Australia higher entry to a market with greater than 447 million folks and a GDP of about  $A26 trillion.

The stress is on to ship, however the EU is unlikely to provide floor simply, having already seen nations like New Zealand and Canada surrender the rights to the names prosecco and feta in latest commerce offers.

“Concluding an formidable commerce deal between like-minded companions is essential at a time of mounting geo-political uncertainty,” Senator Farrell mentioned.

“Negotiations stay tough and have reached a degree the place points very important to Australia’s nationwide curiosity have to be improved.”

In June, he instructed a Senate listening to: “If the Europeans play too laborious, then we received’t have an settlement.”

For a lot of native producers vulnerable to shedding the rights to the present names of their merchandise, they’d somewhat Senator Farrell stroll away from the  Australia-EU FTA if push involves shove.

“No deal is best than a nasty deal,” Rick Gladigau, Australian Dairy Farmers president, mentioned.

Ms Scott mentioned Australian Grape & Wine would additionally assist the federal government if it walked away from a deal that was not “in the most effective curiosity of Australia”.