There are no differences of feta cheeses made in Australia or Greece at first glance,but the European Union would not agree.
On Tuesday, The Australian Department of Commerce released a list of 408 products - 172 foods and 236 alcoholic beverages - that the EU wants to protect by geographical indications (GIs) as part of a trade agreement between Australia and the EU. These include feta cheese, groyere, manchego cheese, bleu d'Auvergne cheese, cantaloupe, gorgonzola, roquefort, Nuremberg sausages and Scottish beef.
Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said that country does not like the idea of geographical indications, but it is an negotiable element with the European Union. In a statement, he said government consultations with farmers would help them to better understand the views of the Australian industry, which would help them discuss with the EU why their requested about protection of certain conditions would not be acceptable in some cases.
He believes that there are huge opportunities for Australian farmers and businesses if they can help improve their access to markets across the EU, as the old continent has more than 500 million consumers. Australia is ultimately only in agreement if it is in the overall interest of Australia.
GIs confirm that the product is manufactured at a specific place of origin, in accordance with certain quality requirements. This quality mark - which can be acquired by the EU for up to four years - allows manufacturers to sell their product as a premium and protect them from other manufacturers who use the name but do not meet the required requirements.
Australian cheese makers will continue to be able to produce camembert and brie - known worldwide as French - with EU GIs "Camembert de Normandie" and "Brie de Meaux”.