Food and drink industry bosses are sceptical about new measures to protect the authenticity of iconic Scottish products like Stornoway black pudding, Scotch Beef and Arbroath smokies after Brexit.
The UK Government recently published details of new rules and logos to replace the existing EU Geographical Indications (GI) schemes, following consultation with producers, devolved administrations and consumers.
The government insisted these would guarantee the authenticity of regional and traditional foods for shoppers and protect UK producers from imitation.
It aims to make its new “geographical indicators” part of the free trade deals it is negotiating globally.
But there is nothing currently in place to safeguard legally-protected UK produce in many key markets around the world, sparking concerns the new rules and logos will be meaningless.
The biggest questionmark is over exports to the EU as the clock ticks down towards the end of the Brexit transition period, with no sign of a trade deal.
John Davidson, strategy and external relations director at industry leadersip group Scotland Food & Drink, said: “Scotland has some of the most iconic and high value protected food names in Europe, synonymous with quality and provenance.
“However, we are yet to have any guarantee that our products will remain recognised and protected throughout the EU in the long term.
“This uncertainty could be removed through the ongoing negotiations and agreement from both parties to mutually recognise each other’s protected products.
“We would, therefore, urge both sides to take a pragmatic and sensible approach in order to give confidence to producers.”
He added: “We also await more details to emerge on the terms of the new trade deals being negotiated, and the opportunities for more of our products to gain protection.
“The recent deal concluded with Japan suggests more of our products could be protected in the future and, whilst this is very much welcomed, we need to better understand the process for securing this.”
A free trade deal with Japan was announced in September, when the Department for Trade and Industry named Stornoway black pudding, Shetland wool, Orkney lamb and Arbroath smokies among “iconic” products heading for better legal protection.
Scottish salmon, beef, potatoes and cheese were also poised for official recognition for “key” UK brands in the Japanese market.
GIs for UK products, guaranteeing where they are made, are expected to increase from just seven under the terms of the EU-Japan deal to potentially more than 70 under the new UK-Japan agreement.
Last night, Quality Meat Scotland market development director Tom Gibson said the government’s GI schemes would protect the authenticity of Scotch Beef and Scotch Lamb in the UK after the end of the transition period, so were welcome.
But Mr Gibson added: “We are concerned that if a no-deal Brexit is the outcome and there is no mutual recognition of GI’s with Europe, there is a potential risk to our legal protection for our GIs in the EU.
“While there remains no clear outcome of the Brexit negotiations, we will endeavour to do everything in our power to keep our brands protected.”