The European Commission has published today a study on the "Labelling of agricultural and food products of mountain farming" reviewing farming in mountain areas.
This study covers existing labelling schemes for mountain products in EU Member States. It explores options on regulating the use of the term "mountain product" now protected at European level by the new Quality Regulation, which entered into force on 3 January 2013. The Regulation sets out the conditions for the use of the term "mountain product" and empowers the Commission to provide for practical rules, such as the extent to which there can be a derogation from the rules of origin how much animal feed can originate from outside and/or stages of processing can take place in non-mountain zones. The study will serve as a useful basis in this process.
“Mountain areas are a haven of biodiversity and they are home to many farm activities with deeply rooted methods of production”, said Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Dacian Cioloş. "We believe that the 'mountain product' term will help mountain farmers to communicate the specificities of mountain products and maximise their production potential”.
Mountains represent 18.5% of the EU's area, as well as a significant share of its population and economy. Mountain farming counts on long established traditions and precious know-how. However, it also faces serious obstacles. Poor accessibility, lower land productivity and adverse climatic conditions result in additional difficulties for farmers and the food industry.
According to the study, 65% of EU consumers have a positive perception of mountain products. Consumers link them to tradition, authenticity, simplicity and small scale production. However, this popularity can lead to misuses of the term "mountain” in the commercialisation of agricultural products. Some Member States already regulate the labelling of mountain products. The study therefore analyses the present labelling modalities as well as possible misuses and misleading practices.