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Feta, Edam and Parmesan cheese names could be off Kiwi producers' labels

The price of a lucrative free trade deal with the European Union could come down to whether our food producers stop using famous European names for cheeses like Feta, Edam and Parmesan.

The EU’s agriculture commissioner, Phil Hogan, told Q+A’s Corin Dann it wants to negotiate the continued use of the names of six New Zealand wine and food products as part of the free trade deal. 

The EU has long held a position that foods like Feta are special and unique to the region they come from, and therefore deserve special trade mark-like protection based on geography. This is known as a GI or Geographic Indicator. 

Mr Hogan says GIs give farmers a premium and respect the local input of ingredients that represent the culture heritage of the area. 

The issue of food names has been a sticking point in other trade deals that the EU has done around the globe. 

However, in places like Canada compromises were found, with their producers still able to label their Feta as "Feta style" cheese. 

Mr Hogan says the EU wants to find solutions on a handful of names that will be the subject of intense negotiations.

He says they will find solutions as they have in Japan, Canada and Mexico. 

Mr Hogan is also keen to remind Kiwi producers that if New Zealand agrees to the geographical naming system in the FTA it'll also protect New Zealand’s unique produce - meaning names like Marlborough sav blanc could not be used by competing exporters.

Both sides are hoping a deal can be done this year.

For more on this story, including the rest of the interview with Phil Hogan, watch the first Q+A of the year tonight at 9.30pm on TVNZ1. Also on the show, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on the hot topic of the moment - New Zealand's relationship with China.

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The EU has confirmed it wants to negotiate the continued use of names for six wine and food products. Source: 1 NEWS