IF THE Australian cheese industry is willing to work together, it may not suffer major ill-effects from proposed restrictions on locally-made produce inspired by European varieties, according to one SA cheesemaker.
Barossa Valley Cheese Company managing director Victoria McClurg said the threat to cheese names had been a "rumbling in the background" for quite some time, which had prompted them to change the name of their variety to 'Barossa feta'.
She said that had the added benefit of reflecting its origins from within the Barossa Valley, as well as differentiating it from European-sourced fetas.
"My interpretation of the new laws is we might not quite be able to do that," she said.
"But if we have to create a new name for feta, it will potentially be governed by the bigger players.
"It is a good opportunity for us to brand the product as distinctly Australian."
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Ms McClurg said rebranding a number of cheeses would require marketing and education of consumers to direct them to Australian-produced cheeses, right through the supply chain.
But she said classics such as brie and camembert were potentially safe, as they had been included on the list of EU geographical indicators as Brie de Meaux and Camembert de Normandie, which are phrases not used in Australia.
Ms McClurg said if the Australian cheese industry could stay united, it could continue to showcase the quality of locally-made produce under an agreed common name.
But she said if different cheese companies struck out alone, it could lead to confusion for consumers.
Trade Minister Simon Birmingham visited the Barossa Valley Cheese Company today where he reiterated that the EU trade deal would only be made if it benefited agriculture.
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