Two local Forfar bakers have come together as the Forfar Bridie Producer Association to apply for a protected geographical indication (PGI) for the name “Forfar Bridie”. If they are successful these EU rights will mean that anyone producing bridies who is not based in Forfar or its locality would be prevented from calling their bridies “Forfar Bridies”.

What are PGI’s?

PGIs can cover agricultural products and foodstuffs which are produced, processed and prepared in a given geographical area using recognised know-how.

PGIs are a great weapon in what is now a globalised marketplace to protect internationally, as well as locally, well known product types which are unique at a local level. For example ‘Chablis’, ‘Queso Manchego’ or ‘Prosciutto di Parma’. Scottish PGIs include Scotch whisky, Arbroath Smokies, Stornoway black pudding and Scottish Salmon ( Scotland’s largest food export). These famous products can often be susceptible to being emulated and suffer from being copied and passed off by 3rd parties.

Can Forfar Bridies succeed in its application to join this exclusive club?

It seems that there may be some opposition from other parties who have apparently been making bridies outside of Forfar and calling them by the name Forfar Bridies for a number of years and each have a different recipe. If this is so these factors could be a potential hurdle in the way of the applicants. This is because the name and product may already have become generic. The EU guidance makes it clear that to gain protection as a PGI the product cannot be a generic one, and must have characteristics distinguishing it from others. Also the link with the geographical area is essential and the applicant must demonstrate in what way the product’s characteristics are due to the geographical area and the natural, human and other elements are which give the product its uniqueness. The outcome remains to be seen but it will be interesting to see how matters develop. Indeed the value of this application could be called into question depending on what happens with Brexit and its fall out.

PGIs and other similar EU schemes which protect names and quality of agricultural products and food and drink. They are EU dependent rights and largely affect products in the food and drink industry. As a huge and rapidly growing sector for the Scottish economy it is an interesting area particularly now and for Scotland .

The recently published stats in the Bank of Scotland 5th Annual Food and Drink Report indicates that it is the largest manufacturing sector in Scotland employing 34000 people and providing 19% of manufacturing jobs. It is targeting £16.5 bn in revenue by 2017 and also the creation of 1400 new roles.

As such PGIs and their like are of huge potential value to the Scottish economy and at the moment there’s no national UK law that protects products in this way.

Brexit and PGIs

Following Brexit however unless the UK brings in specific reciprocal protection then it’s possible that the existing PGI type rights would just fall by the wayside and the iconic products concerned would no longer be able to rely on them. It is envisaged that something will be done about that and new legislation enacted. However post Brexit PGIs will no longer cover the UK and so home grown and UK based copy cats could well emerge claiming their product is one and the same as a PGI product. This would include Forfar Bridies of course if the application is granted. Again it will be important for the UK Government to sort this out as otherwise the quality of the hard earned reputations of such products could be severely undermined.