When Is A Cornish Pasty Not A Cornish Pasty?

Answer: As of July this year when the pasty isn’t made in Cornwall!

We’re all too well aware of the legal protection for growers in the Champagne region or that Roquefort cheese can only come from a specific part of France, but English producers are now cottoning on not just to the advantage of having designations of origin, but also a registered trade mark to protect their brand. Many people confuse the two, but in fact the distinction is quite clear. A designation of origin means that only goods made in certain geographic regions can be labelled as such. So for example, Melton Mowbray pork pies can only come from Melton Mowbray, whereas a really decent pork pie can come from any number of locations, and may be a number of different brands.

A trade mark is quite different. Companies who rely on selling really excellent products such as Fyffe’s bananas or Jaffa oranges use trade marks to protect their reputation as importers of high quality goods. The produce often comes from a variety of locations but all of it will be reliably ripe and of higher value because of the brand values associated with their name. Growers are now taking this one step further with trade names such as Pink Lady ® and Tenderstem ® taking brand values and standards for these products one step further.

Pink Lady® can only be called as such when the grower has met certain licensing conditions specified by the brand owner.

Pink Lady ® is owned by Australian company Apple and Pear Australia Limited, and the apple must have at least 13% sugar content and exposed to 200 days of sunshine to qualify to use the trade mark. This means that although an English grower may grow a Pink Cripps apple variety (the Pink Lady by another name); it can only be called a Pink Lady® if it is part of the licensed scheme and is grown in places like South Africa, Australia or the south of France. It is strange isn’t it that whilst the UK is considered a great place to grow apples, in fact we’ve lost out with that particular brand which now commands around 10% of the apple market.

Tenderstem ® broccoli however denotes a variety of broccoli and can be grown in the UK. The brand is owned by Marks and Spencer’s but the variety is widely grown and is sold by other supermarkets commanding a premium price. It is available from UK sources between June and November and from other countries year round. Growing a variety known as Clemengold ® oranges is again only done as part of a licensed scheme ensuring consistency of produce and high standards of quality. Licensees of Clemengold ® oranges must produce fruit of a minimum sweetness but as for the Pink Lady® the rewards of selling the brand mean those growers can demand premium prices and enhanced profits in return.

There’s a lesson here from the food suppliers for many businesses. The question to ask yourself is this: what is my brand and what values do my products need to have to elevate their desirability? You then need to ask yourself how you can set up a licensing scheme that is of interest and value to consumers and can be used by your suppliers to command a premium price.

Whilst it may be true that as Shakespeare put it “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” it appears that the public don’t feel that way any longer and are quite happy to pay more for certain varieties of rose that can be guaranteed to smell sweet every time.

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