There has been growing interest in recent years in how our food is produced and where it comes from. The growth of local farm shops and the plethora of new businesses making everything from jams to speciality drinks underlines the role that this revival of interest in food can play in helping our local economy. The trend has been especially strong here in Cornwall where we have developed a great brand for quality food and speciality recipes.
We have so many fantastic companies locally that are blazing a trail. Companies like Lynher Dairies have created new markets with their highly acclaimed Cornish Yarg. Furniss Biscuits have started to take their famous Cornish fairings to a national market. Rodda’s Cream are creating new export markets, and Falfish have ensured that Cornwall is the market leader for freshly caught local fish.
Last week, I met Cornwall Council to discuss their new "Product of Cornwall" scheme. It seeks to build and extend the long running "Made in Cornwall" scheme which recognises local Cornish manufacturers. The new scheme is an origin assurance scheme, focused around primary produce and minimally processed products. It will help to develop a brand for local Cornish produce and meats in particular.
In recent years, there have been arguments about supermarkets using made up farm names to try to suggest produce is British when it sometimes is not. We have also seen similar disputes around the use of the term “Cornish”. In 2015 there were complaints made about caterers using the term “Cornish Beef” when the beef had not been reared in Cornwall. The Product of Cornwall scheme means that beef will only be accredited as “Cornish” if the animal was born, reared and slaughtered within Cornwall.
Schemes like this can help to develop a local brand and strengthen consumer confidence in the food they eat. At Defra as Farming and Food Minister I have been looking at other opportunities to recognise local speciality foods that help celebrate and promote the diversity of food that we have across the country. One of the things we are looking at is how we might be able to use certification schemes and trade mark regulations to help recognise such produce. The Product of Cornwall scheme is a good local example of how such ideas can work.