The European Commission has published a decision today defining new rules for using the optional quality term "mountain product" for food products coming from mountain areas. This is the first optional quality term to be introduced, as provided under the 2012 "Quality Regulation" aimed at highlighting to consumers products which have an important added value, but are not covered under the other EU quality labels. The Commission has also adopted two other legal acts today which clarify and simplify applications for protecting names as designations of origin (PDO) or geographical indications (PGI) for foodstuffs.
"I am happy to confirm that the detailed rules for using the term 'mountain product' on food labels are now in place. I hope this will facilitate the uptake of this new tool. I strongly believe it has the potential to provide an extra boost to farmers in mountain areas – for example in the dairy sector, but not only – but it will also help inform consumers about the added value of such products. With the other decisions today the rules for registration and effective protection of geographical indications for foodstuffs are now complete", said Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Dacian Cioloş.
In today's decisions, the Commission clarifies the rules for the use of the term "mountain product" on foodstuffs. Under the Basic Regulation on quality schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs, known as the "Quality Regulation", the legislation requires that feedstuffs and raw materials for products using that term "should come essentially from mountain areas" and in case of processed products, these "should be produced in mountain areas". The rules adopted today tailor these requirements more concretely to the reality of producing in mountain regions. For example, the feedstuffs for animals that come from mountain areas should represent at least 50% of the annual animal diet. This share is defined as 60% for ruminants and 25% in the case of pigs (because there is a much lower level of feedstuffs grown in mountain areas).
There are also certain derogations for processing, as facilities are frequently insufficient in mountain areas. Natural constraints like high altitude and remoteness affect their availability and make processing difficult and unviable. This is in particular the case for milk products, meat and olive oil. Therefore, processing within a 30 km zone outside mountain areas will be allowed for these products. However, to ensure that facilities currently producing milk and milk products in mountain areas are not encouraged to move away from there, processing of milk outside mountain areas is only possible in existing facilities within the 30 km zone and only if the Member State allows it.
In the other decisions, the EU symbols for PDO, PGI and traditional specialities guaranteed (TSG) are confirmed. The provisions on their use are clarified also taking into account the importance these symbols have taken on in the Quality Regulation. The process for amendment applications is largely simplified (electronic forms, easier templates). Together, the new rules shall speed up the registration of new PDO, PGI and TSG, or modifications to the product specifications.
The new Commission rules clarify that feedstuffs for animals used for production of protected designations of origin (PDOs) may come from outside the defined area under three conditions:
Regulation (EU) No 1151/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council on quality schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs entered into force on 3 January 2013. It empowers the Commission to adopt implementing and delegated acts.
With a view to clarifying the content of the Quality Regulation, the Commission adopted three legal acts which are published today: