Wheying up the Options: How do Geographical Indications used in the European Union Influence New Zealand Speciality Cheese?
Thesis DisciplineEuropean Studies
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
Global food production, supply chains, and food quality are coming under increasing scrutiny by consumers, environmentalists and governments. Particularly in developed countries, there is growing awareness among consumers about food origins and environmental practices. There are increasing concerns over animal welfare and protection and due to food scares in the late 1990’s, and more recently contamination issues from additives within supply chains and food borne illness outbreaks in Europe. It is no surprise then that food safety and traceability matters have become an issue of public and governmental concern. There is much debate currently about globalisation of the international trade of food commodities. There is also a growing awareness about and changing attitudes towards the provenance of consumers’ food sources. This dichotomy provides the background argument to this thesis. Europe has long been considered the home of finely crafted cheeses and this thesis aims to examine how the use of Geographical Indications (GI’s) by the European Union (EU) can influence New Zealand made speciality cheeses. The EU system of GI’s and the protection of specialised food and agricultural products has enabled companies to build strong reputations in the global marketplace and also within the internal market in order to charge premium prices for these protected products. The vast majority of the world’s GI foods are located in Europe. This thesis aims to argue that while there is not an official system for the control of labels of origin for the names of speciality cheeses in New Zealand, they are used nonetheless. These labels of location are used to denote certain qualities, production methods or guarantee and differ from standardised, commoditised cheeses. This thesis discusses the use of GI’s in the cheese industry as a way for New Zealand cheese producers to create product differentiation and as a means of communicating product quality through provenance branding. This thesis uses qualitative research methods to gauge industry opinion regarding the nature of the speciality cheese industry in New Zealand in order to better understand the reasons for naming speciality cheese products and how European cheeses have influenced them. Findings indicate that naming and influences for these products are varied and complex, but have been ultimately influenced by European cheeses. For New Zealand cheese companies GI’s are used as a means to differentiate products from competitors.