Melvyn Dickenson, Weston's
What difference does having a PGI on the cider and perry you produce make?
One thing PGI status gives us is recognition-it reinforces provenance of the product without having to go into chapter and verse
Philip Crawford, Chairman of West Country Farmhouse Cheesemakers
A brief outline of the company and product
Introducing yourself and your organisation, saying where you're located;
West Country Farmhouse Cheesemakers, 13 cheesemaking dairy farmers in Devon, Dorset and Somerset
How long have your been producing the product for?
It varies from farm to farm but some of the families in the group have been making traditional Farmhouse Cheddar for more than 100 years.
What are the features and characteristics that make your product so special?
We're a small group of farmers based in the South West of England and we share a passion for the traditional art of cheesemaking. Every one of our Cheddars is made in the West Country, by West Country families using West Country milk. That's why we can call them West Country cheeses. Every one of our authentic cheeses is made on the farm. That's what makes them authentic Farmhouse cheeses.
Every one of them is made by hand. That's why we can call them handmade.
It's the care and expertise of our cheesemakers and the different geographical locations of our farms that gives each of our cheeses a character of its own. Our Farmhouse cheeses have a lingering, full-bodied and complex flavour with a start, a middle and an end, and their texture is substantial yet temptingly crumbly. And that's why our cheeses, once tasted, are never forgotten.
What EU geographical protection have you been afforded?
PDO for 'West Country Farmhouse Cheddar'
When did you receive it?
Why did you apply for geographically protected status?
To safeguard our craft and heritage and the investment we have made in our product and our farms
Why do you feel that it is important to be part of the EU food protection scheme?
Without the protection of our product from imitation the additional time and effort and lower productivity which it takes to make it could not translate into the premium price and a return on that investment and we would be forced to either produce a cheaper, poorer quality product or become unviable as a farming business.
How has geographically protected status helped and what benefits has it brought?
It has provided us with a way of legitimising the claims we make and the unique nature of our product. It has provided us with a point of difference and a guarantee to pass on to consumers.
Has there been an increase in demand since receiving PGI status?
Our sales have increased since we first obtained PDO status. This may be due to a number of factors but certainly our efforts to promote our product have centred on our PDO status and the benefits and values it represents.
Do you export and what EU countries do you export to?
Some of the members of the group do export small quantities to other countries in Europe such as France and Italy, and further afield to the United States etc. We are constantly reviewing and watch where our products could potentially have a market at any given time.
How has this benefited the company, community and consumers as a whole?
Can you point to any feed back you've received - either from individuals, organisations or tourists. For example are consumers more aware of the local provenance of foods?
In our experience many consumers are committed to buying premium products with justifiable provenance, and to paying a little more to not only enjoy the very best quality foods but also to support British farmers and artisans.
How has this helped the rural economy?
Clearly anything which helps focus consumers' attention on the heritage and tradition behind farm made foods will help sales and drive more money away from mass-production and urban factories and back to farm businesses and the rural economy.
Do you feel this has secured the company and the rural community's future in protecting the heritage and provenance of the product?
It may well have contributed. What we need to see now is a generic campaign which promotes the concept of Protected Food Names to consumers and raised awareness of the logo to help consumers choose products like ours.