Lukewarm reaction to Japan deal on Melton pork pies

Melton Mowbray pork piesMelton Mowbray pork pies
Melton Mowbray pork pies
New geographical protection for Stilton cheese in Japan will have virtually no impact on export opportunities for local producers.

That was the reaction this week of Matthew O’Callaghan, chair of the Melton Mowbray Food Partnership and organiser of the town’s annual Artisan Cheese Fair.

Dickinson and Morris do not currently sell their Melton pork pies in Japan.

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Another prominent piemaker, Brockleby’s of Asfordby Hill, has established a link with Japan but that was more to do with the company’s British Pie Awards supreme champion success last year with its Moo and Blue steak and ale pie.

Japanese visitors to Brockleby's Pies from the Hankyu Hanshin Toho Group in Osaka Japan last year following the firm winning the British Pie Awards supreme champion award with its Moo and Blue pieJapanese visitors to Brockleby's Pies from the Hankyu Hanshin Toho Group in Osaka Japan last year following the firm winning the British Pie Awards supreme champion award with its Moo and Blue pie
Japanese visitors to Brockleby's Pies from the Hankyu Hanshin Toho Group in Osaka Japan last year following the firm winning the British Pie Awards supreme champion award with its Moo and Blue pie

And Mr O’Callaghan told the Melton Times: “The granting of protected food name status to our pork pies is unlikely to have much impact as sales are almost non-existent and given the issues of shipping are unlikely to grow any time soon.”

Stilton cheese did already have protected geographical status in Japan and the signs are that it could do well over there.

Mr O’Callaghan, who said there was ‘a major opportunity’ for local cheesemakers to export to Japan, added: "Sales of cheese are increasing in Japan especially traditional imported cheeses.

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"I suspect that in time and with the right marketing Stilton could do very well in Japan.”

Melton pork pies are one of 37 British food and drink brands which now have their Geographical Indications (GIs) extended to Japan, which has a population of 125 million and is the world’s third largest economy.

Other products now enjoying protected status there include Welsh Beef, Staffordshire Cheese, Cornish Pasties, Arbroath Smokies and traditional Cumberland Sausages.

GIs effectively limit the production of a particular food or drink to being made inside a specific geographical area and to a traditional recipe – in the case of Melton pork pies it is a short distance around the town in Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire.

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The trade deal with Japan was one of the post-Brexit agreements the UK government has been working on to increase markets outside the European zone.

There is also a reciprocal arrangement to protect the GIs of several Japanese products, such as Hokkaido wine and Hiba beef.

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