Australian cheese manufacturers are pushing against a proposed European crackdown on the naming of numerous products such as feta, gorgonzola, and mozzarella, and have sent out warnings of not just job losses, but also a slide in Australia’s multi-cultural history.
According to negotiations that are taking place between Australia and the European Union, on the basis of a new free trade agreement, the European Union has set forth a list of geographic indicators that the EU believes should be used by producers based in Australia.
The proposed changes by the EU would disallow Australia from using the names of 236 beverages 56 cheeses, and 172 food items. Following the implementation of the change, Australian products will also require repackaging and rebranding, to make sure that the products would not be mistaken for their European counterparts.
The ruling will especially hit hard at those Australian producers who have a European ancestry, who have worked to continue their family food traditions and methods, which were introduced by their forebears.
Identity Crisis for European Origin Australians
While many of the food and beverage food producers are Australian born, a question of heritage has become a key talking point. For instance, the EU’s ruling would force cheesemakers to rebrand products such as parmesan and mozzarella cheeses, which is expected to cost every major producer hundreds of thousands of dollars, while also threatening the workforce. The move will result in changes that would be similar to restarting the business from scratch.
The ruling would cut into the ability of European origin Australian producers from promoting their identity. The North Food Group based in Melbourne represents more than 400 food based businesses in Victoria. The group estimates that the changes would hit industrial suburbs in the area very hard. This is especially true after Melbourne turned to food manufacturing after the local car industry closed down.
Most of such businesses are family owned, with a majority run by families who descended from people who left European nations for Australia post the Second World War.