Cornish pasty campaigners say they have new hope of restricting production of Cornish pasties to Cornwall, after the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Association (MMPPA) won a Court of Appeal victory on January 24.
The Melton Mowbray Association has been campaigning for seven years for the legal right to restrict production of Melton Mowbray pork pies to a 1,800sq mile zone around Melton Mowbray. It has been backed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), which believes restricting production will benefit the region.
The campaign is contested by Northern Foods which produces the pies in its factories in Shropshire and Trowbridge and has a 24% share of the £51.7 million Melton Mowbray pie market (according to TNS figures).
Northern Foods had asked for a judicial review to protect its right to make the pies, but lost its High Court appeal in December (British Baker, January 6, pgs 8-9). And, on January 24, the company’s attempt to overturn that decision failed as the Court of Appeal refused it permission to appeal. Northern Foods director of communications Hilary Baker told British Baker the name Melton Mowbray is an indication of style, and not a geographical base. Northern Foods is to make a second application at the Court of Appeal for permission to appeal, as it continues its fight, she said.
But DEFRA has already applied for European Commis-sion Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status for the pies, status already enjoyed by products such as Champagne. The application could be gran-ted by May.
The news that Northern Foods’ first appeal request was dismissed has been welcomed
by the Cornish Pasty Associa-tion. It met DEFRA officials in March 2005 to discuss a PGI application, but progress has been delayed pending the outcome of the Melton Mowbray case. The association, which includes Ginsters, Proper Cornish and Crantock Bakery
among its 42 members, said it now plans to meet with DEFRA officials in March to go through any objections to its application. Proper Cornish MD Phil Ugalde told British Baker: “We are heartened by the fact DEFRA is giving support to regional food producers.
Our application for PGI status is in with DEFRA, but we are waiting for the green light to take it forwards. We are encouraged by the latest news.”
Meanwhile, Northern Foods is preparing comment on this application too. Ms Baker told British Baker: “This is not about artisan versus big business. It is about one food producer using EU rules to gain unfair advantage over another. What will happen in future
with Chelsea buns and Yorkshire puddings?”
The MMPPA includes food giant Samworth Brothers, which has a 62% share of the Melton Mowbray market (TNS). Samworth Brothers’ Ginsters business is part of the campaign by The Cornish Pasty Associa-tion to gain PGI status.
1998: The Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Association is formed.
1999: The Association applies to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) for PGI status for the pies.
2004: DEFRA agrees to champion the cause and forwards the application to the European Commission. Northern Foods launches a legal challenge. The EC PGI application is suspended. DEFRA agrees to consider further objections.
2005: DEFRA resubmits its PGI application in Europe. Northern Foods seeks judicial review. The High Court rejects Northern Foods’ case
2006: The Court of Appeal rejects Northern Foods’ case.