On foot of a recent national consultation involving interested stakeholders, the Department of Agriculture is reviewing a proposed application to the EU Commission for Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status for “Wexford Blackcurrants". The application was initiated by the Wexford Blackcurrant Growers group and sent forward for the national consultation.

Under the EU quality regime, an application can be made for PGI status which protects the names of foods that have a strong link to the area after which they are named, covering translations of the name, misuse and imitation. In order to obtain PGI status, it is necessary for at least one of the stages of production, processing or preparation to take place in the area and also to demonstrate the impact of the produce on the local economy.

There are currently four products with PGI status in Ireland: Clare Island Salmon, Connemara Hill Lamb, Timoleague Brown Pudding and the Waterford Blaa. Imokilly Regato (a type of cheese made in Cork) has Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status which requires the product to be produced, processed and prepared in a given geographical area using recognised know-how.

The proposed application is based on submissions that the specific climatic and soil conditions result in the production of Wexford's blackcurrants with distinctive sweetness. Further detail on the submission is available here. The national consultation closed on 15 August 2016 and will now be reviewed for submission to the EU Commission.

We previously reported on the successful application for PGI status by producers of the Waterford Blaa (see here). Other applications under review relate to Sneem Black Pudding (PDO) and Oriel Sea Salt/Oriel Sea Minerals (PDO).

The Food Industry Development Division of the Department of Agriculture reported in the past (see here) that PGI/PDO status can have the effect of opening market opportunities for producers to access specialised markets and that there is also evidence that production of protected products can result in higher employment levels due to specialised techniques. This demonstrates the value of such protection and encourages further such applications in future.