The UK Government stand accused of failing to protect the iconic Arbroath Smokie and other geographically-listed British produce.
In a trade deal soon to be ratified between the European Union and Canada, items such as Arbroath smokies and Stornoway black puddings will be open to competition from Canadian imitations. The CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) has already been signed by negotiators from the EU and Canada and now awaits ratification.
The agreement would begin to come into effect in 2016 at the earliest, at which time about 98 per cent of the tariffs between Canada and the EU would be eliminated.
Social justice group Global Justice Now, which is opposed to the trade agreement, said there was still time for the government to take action.
A spokesman said: “The Government has failed to protect any geographically-listed British produce from competition in the trade deal soon to be ratified between the EU and Canada. The failure means that produce such as Cumberland sausages, Arbroath smokies, Cornish Pasties, Jersey royal potatoes and Yorkshire Wensleydale will be open to competition with Canadian imitations should the agreement come into effect.
“The treaty text shows that other European countries have managed to successfully obtain exemptions for geographically-listed produce including feta and parmesan cheeses and German and Czech beer.”
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, confirmed that the UK would be examining ways in which protection for protected food name products might be achieved in Canada, but only after CETA comes into force.
Local fish merchant Stuart Scott, of Stuart’s Fresh Fish in Ladybridge Street, was aware of the potential change in legislation and told the Herald: “I’ve heard about this. There is a market around the world for smokies which is not being met yet by Arbroath merchants. The trouble is, it’s a very labour-intensive job to make smokies and the knowledge required is passed down from one generation to another. The method goes back to at least Pictish times and maybe even the Vikings before that.”
Stuart went on to explain how local merchants were looking into meeting the increasing global demand and selling their vacuum-packed produce online through websites such as ArbroathSmokiesDirect.co.uk
Stuart had this to say about the threat of competition from Canada: “The merchants would be concerned by poor imitations. There are a lot of variables, right down to the size of the fish, and I think people will choose by the taste.”
Stuart recommends that people only purchase smokies that bear the PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) sticker if they want the authentic Arbroath flavour.
However, grinning broadly, he did have this to say: “If they want to export me and my family to Canada, I’ll show them how to do it!”