Whatever your thoughts are on Brexit, if you are an enthusiastic consumer of prosciutto crudo, parmigiano reggiano and Chianti, you might need to watch out: your shopping cart might soon be filled with products that are not what you were intending to buy. We have already explored the phenomenon of “Italian Sounding” products, that use the idea of Italian style to market brands that have nothing to do with Italy. In most cases, these are pretty transparent attempts at gaining traction in certain industries (particularly fashion and food & beverage). In other cases, there are names that, while not specifically owned by individual brands, are protected according to international standards. Within the EU, those standards might be at risk because of Brexit.
Search Results How will Brexit affect Italian protected brands?
From Cornish Pasties to Parma ham
Brexit talks have proven to be more complicated by far than either the British public or the original Brexit campaigners anticipated, in that they have to cover virtually every aspect of reality, from food production to pet owning to the right to use specific names for certain products. The issue was first raised in 2016, when it became apparent that farmers from certain British regions were at risk of losing the protected status granted by the EU to the products manufactured in those specific areas. Cornish pasties and Welsh beef were often mentioned and the news understandably worried local producers. The status of the 59 protected British products was since secured, but the issue is far from resolved. It now transpires that the same could happen to protected European products in the UK. By rejecting European regulations, for instance, British producers could appropriate product names that are protected elsewhere. This might result in “Parma” ham made in the UK from animals that have never even set foot in Emilia Romagna or “Aceto Balsamico di Modena” entirely manufactured in Gloucestershire. Experts and negotiators expressed their concern and pointed out the need to safeguard the status of over 1150 products (800 of which are Italian) whose protection can’t be guaranteed in the current state of affairs.
The next step
Italian-sounding products are generally more expensive than their non-Italian sounding equivalents and they are known to boost the revenue of brands that sell them, by conning consumers into thinking they are paying more for specific quality standards. It is not hard to guess who would benefit from deregulation in this matter. As a way of preventing what would be essentially legalised fraud, negotiators are now proposing to extend the protection of British denominations to whisky and cheddar, in exchange for Britain maintaining the current regulations on protected European products. The UK is the fourth largest market for Made in Italy products, coming after the US, Germany and France, and it accounts for over 2.5 Billion Euro export in 2016 alone. Italian wines are particularly popular with the British public. The logical consequence of an unregulated Brexit would be a drastic fall in the exports of actual Italian protected products to the UK. As Britain leaves the common market, prices of imported goods would inevitably rise, forcing retailers to turn to cheaper local alternatives, particularly if they could be marketed under the same product name and ideally with similar brand names and packaging. The public, of course, would be worse off, having to pay the same amount for a product that does not respect the same quality standards as the original, or having to shell out considerably more for the real thing.