Geographical Indications

What are Geographical Indications?

A Geographical Indication (GI) identifies a product as originating in a specific region where a particular quality, reputation or other characteristic is attributable to the region. This is best illustrated with an example from the wine industry, where champagne and burgundy are both now protected GIs, and cannot be used by Australian wine producers.

Through negotiations towards an Australia-EU Free Trade Agreement, the EU is seeking to implement a restrictive and anti-competitive Geographical Indications (GIs) regime on Australian dairy products. If successful, the use of common food names, including names of cheeses commonly produced in Australia; such as Feta, Parmesan, Gruyere, Haloumi may be restricted.

There could also be restricted use of packaging and labelling that are judged to evoke an image of a particular EU product in the mind of the consumer, e.g., flags, colours or images that evoke European nations.

How could this impact Australia’s dairy industry?

A strict agreement on GIs has the potential to significantly impact Australia’s dairy industry; the effects felt by farmers, manufacturers, cheese makers, chefs, food service professionals and retailers across the country.

The potential direct cost to the industry is significant, ranging from reduced demand for raw food products, decreased company sales and revenue, re-branding and re-packaging costs, re-marketing expenses and more. The cost to the industry could range from $70 million - $90 million per annum in the early years of the regime being implemented.

Estimates suggest industry revenue from the imposition of the regime could see Gross Regional Production across Australia drop by over $220 million and dairy employment decline by 640 – 1,000 people.

We’ve asked some Australian dairy stakeholders how they feel about the Geographical Indications regime and its impacts on their business. Read more below.

Industry support

Dairy Australia, Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF), Australian Dairy Products Federation (ADPF) and state farming organisations are supporting Aussie dairy producers and continue to engage with the Australian Government and the broader dairy industry to increase awareness of the risks of an agreement on GIs. The industry seeks to ensure ongoing use of common food names that are part of the public domain, and the continued use of food names that can also legitimately be used in world markets.