Riverina Dairy faces battle to keep feta title under European Union trade push

In the cross hairs: Riverina Dairy chief executive Franck Beaurain may be forced to rebadge his firm's feta cheese under a proposed European trade deal.
In the cross hairs: Riverina Dairy chief executive Franck Beaurain may be forced to rebadge his firm's feta cheese under a proposed European trade deal.

Riverina Dairy is facing the prospect of not being able to use the word feta to describe its variety of that cheese.

The South Albury firm could be banned from labeling its style of the Greek-origin cheese as feta as part of a free trade deal between Australia and the European Union.

Feta has been listed with other European cheese tags, such as gorgonzola, gruyere and roquefort, that the European Union want Australian makers to stop using.

Others such as brie and camembert would not be subject to such protection unless used in the context of a place name such as Brie de Meaux or Camembert de Normandie.

That would allow Milawa Brie and Milawa Camembert to continue to be sold.

Riverina Dairy chief executive Franck Beaurain said his company was supporting industry efforts to retain the feta name.

Safe: Brie and camembert produced by the Milawa Cheese Company would avoid a name change if Australia accepts a European Union bid on other products having to alter their titles.

Safe: Brie and camembert produced by the Milawa Cheese Company would avoid a name change if Australia accepts a European Union bid on other products having to alter their titles.

He said his firm would not label feta as white cheese, as is done in Turkey, because of confusion with brie and camembert.

The Australian Dairy Industry Council plans to fight the trade restriction, noting such a deal could cost cheese makers up to $90 million annually in the initial phase of implementation.

"The production of many cheeses in Australia is a reflection of Australia's rich migration history," the council stated.

"We will engage with the industry to provide input into this process and encourage all consumers, farmers, cheese makers and the broader community to prepare their own submissions to the government."

The latest list of items does not include the wine name prosecco, with Trade Minister Simon Birmingham saying its status had already been dealt with through a wine agreement.

However, the European Union's Australian ambassador Michael Pulch said his organisation still wanted to see prosecco subject to protection.

Wines of the King Valley president Dean Cleave-Smith said the fight to retain prosecco would continue, with the central argument that prosecco is a grape variety and not a wine region, such as Champagne.

This story Riverina Dairy in feta name fight first appeared on The Border Mail.