Kiwi cheesemakers fear losing out as EU trade talks continue

Source: 1News

From the household staple to fancy fromage, cheese is big business.

But now, some of New Zealand’s artisan cheesemakers are worried they will lose out in the ongoing trade talks with the EU.

“We're concerned that we've become a bit of a sacrificial lamb in the bigger picture of the bigger agreement,” Barry’s Bay Cheese’s Daniel Shields said.

Some European countries are trying to restrict New Zealand cheesemakers from using names such as feta, parmesan and gouda, as well as other geographical indicators on their products.

International trade lawyer Sarah Salmond said it means producers here “will not be able to produce and market something using a European protected GI”.

“You will have to come up with a new brand and marketing strategy.”

Miel Meyers’ Dutch family has been making traditional gouda for over 400 years - the same methods they’re using in New Zealand today.

“We feel through heritage and birthright almost, we should be able to use that name forever,” he said.

Salmond said while the move would be tough on local cheesemakers, it’s “important to bear the big picture in mind here”.

“Negotiations are about give and take. New Zealand might need to give something quite material on geographical indications, but we're going to gain lots of gains in other areas."

Meyers said while the Fair Trade Agreement for New Zealand on "the whole is a fantastic thing, and I 100% support it, but are those strings attached worth it?”

Trade Minister Damien O’Connor is heading to Europe for talks next week.

“This negotiation's still got some way to go. The geographical indicators was always going to be an issue,” he said.