Speciality Food Magazine – The Power of Provenance
The Power of Provenance
Conor Daunt from Dewlay Cheesemakers believes that retailers need to focus on cheese with true provenance in order to garner that much-needed point of difference.
The Abbreviation P.D.O. stands for Protected Designation of Origin and the standard was created nearly 20 years ago. The uniform accreditation helps protect regional foods, their place of origin and the time honoured methods of production from companies outside the area making products with the same name.
Before the status, companies would try and sell cheeses under the traditional names – but not using the same techniques. For many observers outside of the food industry, the terms PDO, PGI, AOC, DOP can create a lot of confusion, and the great stories behind the products becoming unclear to say the least. The job of educating consumers therefore falls on the shoulders of producers and retailers alike to show the true value of these accreditations.
An whilst innovation is always going to be key to the sector by bringing new customers into the market, heritage and provenance will also continue to be very important to consumers looking to buy products that have genuine credentials. Shoppers are looking for respected traditional recipes and means of production, and, for producers that already have PDO accreditation on their product(s), it can be used to emphasise these hard-earned credentials.
The PDO standard, it could be argued has been very successful in bringing to life, the heritage in cheeses such as Parmigiano Reggiano, Roquefort and Gorgonzola. More importantly, from a commercial point of view, it has clearly been very successful in protecting these cheeses from initations produced outside their respective regions. Looking closer to home, there is a small and exclusive range of British cheeses that also hold the respected PDO accreditation that often goes unnoticed by consumers and trade professionals alike. Only 14 UK cheeses currently hold the standard including names like Buxton Blue, Swaledale Cheese and West Country Farmhouse Cheddar cheese.
The range also includeds a product called Beacon Fell Traditional Lancashire cheese, which can only be made by dairies within a designation region of Lancashire. Today just a handful of family owned dairies continue to make the cheese to the same recipe using techniques that are simply not used outside the County.
To safeguard the traditions, the Lancashire Cheesemakers Association was formed and went through a rigorous application procedure which eventually granted them the protection. The name Lancashire, like Cheddra, Cheshire and Wensleydale and many others has become commoditised in the sense that the name alone cannot be afforded the protection of P.D.O. hence the addition of the landmark of “Beacon Fell” to the name Lancashire, produced a name that could acquire the protected status.
But unfortunately, PDO often tends not be be emplasised strongly enough for the typical consumer to pick up on, and while th all important logo will be present on labelling – that’s often as far as it goes. Each product whether it’s Beacon Fell Traditional Lancashire Cheese, Parma Ham, or a Melton Mowbray pork pie has its own unique story to tell, showing customers why it is a step up from its competitors that don’t have the accreditation. Consumers can only buy into this fully, however, when they understand how the status gives them more assurance when they are looking for products with true provenance. The job of highlighting its benefits is something that retailers need to do on a regular basis by talking about the product with customers, and of course offering regular samples.
Article is courtesy of Speciality Food Magazine www.specialityfoodmagazine.co.uk
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