Danish dairy producers were jubilant yesterday following an EU decision to award the Havarti cheese the Protected Geographical Indication logo – meaning only Havarti cheese produced in Denmark will be permitted to use the Havarti name.
Havarti joins in the list the other three Danish cheeses already included: Danablu, Esrom, and Danbo, which may only be produced in Denmark from Danish milk and at approved dairies that are regularly checked.
Nowadays there is also a large production of the cheese in Germany and Spain, but from now on producers outside of Denmark will have to rename their products.
The production of Havarti in Denmark is roughly 17 million kilos and consumption oscillates between three and four million kilos. The difference is exported abroad. The EU decision is expected to increase the volume of export over the next five years.
“Having the Havarti on the PGI list really matters to Danish dairy farmers to have ” Hans Henrik Lund, the chairman of the PGI Association in Denmark, told BT tabloid.
A legacy from the 1800s
Havarti cheese was first made in Havarthigaard, a farm north of Copenhagen. The creator, Hanne Nielsen, had travelled around Europe learning about cheese making, and after her return in 1852, she developed the technique to create a cheese she would name after her family’s farm.
“The label is a recognition that the cheese is of Danish origin. We are pleased that Denmark is gradually producing a fine variety of exciting national cheeses,” Hans Henrik Lund said.
The decision wasn’t a cause for celebration from everyone, with dairy associations from Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Uruguay and the US linking up with the Consortium for Common Food Names to express outrage at the EU ruling.
“Such an approval lays bare the fact that all too often the EU GI system is used not for legitimate intellectual property protection, but instead for barely concealed protectionism and economic gain,” the group wrote in a letter to the EU.