Feta, mozzarella and Scotch beef may be off the menu for Australian producers if the European Union (EU) gets its way.
The EU is demanding food and drink products with names it claims are associated with specific geographic regions be protected as part of a proposed free trade deal with Australia.
It means Australian feta-makers could be forced to refer to their cheese as “Australian feta”. Other cheese styles including gruyere, Roquefort and gorgonzola could also be affected.
And ‘Scotch’ could not be used to identify Australian-made whisky or beef.
Packaging may also need to be changed for some Australian products, such as mozzarella cheese, so it doesn’t look too similar to European brands.
Italy is also pushing for prosecco to be among the protected names, though the popular wine style was reportedly not on the list of products subject to EU demands released on Tuesday. Australia previously gave up branding locally-made sparkling wine as ‘champagne’ after objections from France.
Trade Minister Simon Birmingham has vowed to drive a “very hard bargain” with the EU, which is pursuing the product name issue in its negotiations with the federal government.
Senator Birmingham said the Coalition government will spend the three months consulting with the industries likely to be affected by the proposed changes.
“Ultimately, we will only do this deal if overall it is in Australia’s interests to do so,” he told The Australian.
“We want to hear directly from Australian farmers and businesses so that we can fully represent them in our continuing negotiations with the EU.”
The EU is Australia’s second-largest trading partner, third-largest export destination and second-largest services export market.