Liberal Democrat MEP and Agriculture Spokesman George Lyon has welcomed the approval of a new EU funding programme in the European Parliament which could help win over thousands of new customers around the world for traditional British products such as Scottish smoked salmon and West Country Farmhouse cheddar.
The new scheme will fund programmes to promote high-quality agricultural products in Europe and in fast-growing economies around the world such as China and South Korea. It will see a major increase in funding, from £51 million across the EU in 2014 to £165 million in 2020.
Mr Lyon said:
“This new scheme will give local producers the opportunity to bring a taste of Britain to the world.”
“One of our big achievements has been to ensure that traditional products with European protected status such as Scotch whisky will be given extra funding to boost their exports and win over new customers abroad.”
“This is an example of how we can work through the EU to help small businesses, build up the reputation of quality local British food and strengthen our economy.”
Currently 62 unique products in the UK have gained EU protected status, protecting them from imitation or fraud and ensuring that customers know they are buying an authentic locally sourced product. The prestigious award also helps to boost sales by increasing visibility both at home and abroad. A number of new British products including West Country beef and lamb, Anglesey Sea Salt and Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese have been awarded the status in recent months.
Mr Lyon added:
“Liberal Democrat MEPs will now be working with more food and drink producers to encourage them to apply for protected status and for European funding.”
“We should be proud of our unique traditional products, and that means using our membership of the world’s biggest trading bloc to promote small producers on the international stage.”
“At next month’s European elections Liberal Democrats will be fighting to keep Britain in the EU so we can protect jobs and continue delivering for the local economy.”
Notes to Editors
Projects funded under the new scheme will aim to increase awareness about the high quality of these products and the traditional methods used to make them, with a specific focus on winning over new customers in high-growth markets abroad. 70-80% of funding for each programme will come from the EU, with the remainder being paid for by the individual producer or group of businesses.
In November, the EU funded a range of events in Japan and South Korea to promote British products including West Country Farmhouse cheddar Scotch Whisky.
As well as traditional products with EU protected status, certain other high quality agricultural products are eligible including organic produce and fresh fruit and vegetables.
More information about the current scheme in the UK, administered by the Rural Payments Agency, can be found here